To everyone at Penguicon:

My friend, editor, and partner in crime, Andrew, is at Penguicon right now, and he's graciously agreed to be a substitute me for the weekend. I asked him if he'd read the following at the opening ceremonies tonight. If we timed it right, he should be reading this right now:

A few years ago, I had a really serious case of Epstein-Barr that really kicked me in the junk. My doctor said it was an exceptionally rare form of the virus, and warned me that I'd spend the rest of my life with a slightly-weakened immune system.

Monday or Tuesday, I started to feel all the warning signs of impending illness. I was more physically and mentally tired than I should have been, I was sneezing and coughing like crazy, and I felt generally run down.

"I am not getting sick," I told Anne. "I refuse to get sick. I don't have time to get sick."

Yesterday, I had a quarterly follow-up appointment with my doctor who did my sinus surgery a year ago.

"I'm traveling to Detroit tomorrow and –"

"You're working in an infection already," he said. "You shouldn't be traveling at all."

I told him how important it was to me to go. A lot of my friends will be there, I made a commitment to the organizers and the people attending. I'm playing Atari for charity. Couldn't he do something for me?

He said he could give me some meds, but there was no guarantee they'd work. He repeated how serious he was about me not traveling where I would be at risk for further infection, or infecting other people if whatever it is I have is contagious.

"Start this right away, and you'll know in the morning if you're going to feel better or not, but you really shouldn't travel."

I thanked him and left, determined to kick this thing's ass through the magic of pharmaceutical science.

As it turns out, yesterday was a really busy day for me. I worked on a game called Brütal Legend, which was awesome, but took a lot out of me and left me feeling like Daffy Duck after he blows himself up.

I was also invited to the Star Trek premiere last night, which was kind of a big deal, considering that I'm usually excluded from these things. Oh, and I've been excited to see the movie for over a year. And I was going to get to take my wife to a big deal Hollywood movie premiere. And, holy crap, people: Star Trek. I was so exhausted after working on the game, though, I decided that there was no way I could spend the evening out and still get enough rest to give my body a chance to heal itself. So, I made a really tough choice and stayed home. I can't tell you which of us was more upset about missing it, because we're both still pretty unhappy about it.

Anyway, after dinner last night, I packed my bags, went to bed early, and hoped for the best. I guess it was about 1:30 this morning when I woke up with a fever. I was covered in sweat (it made me slippery, like a fish.) I had body aches, chills, couldn't breathe through my nose, and felt like my throat had been replaced with a tube of meat that was filled with broken glass. Also, there was an angry badger running around in the tube, occasionally taking bites out of it. And from time to time, the Badger would climb out of my throat and claw me in the face, just because it could. The Frogurt was also cursed.

When my alarm went off at 5:30, I dragged myself out of bed, took a step toward the door, and felt like I was going to fall over. I was forced to admit that it would have been one of the most irresponsible things in the world for me to travel all the way across the country feeling like this. It would have been pretty miserable to fly with my head full of mucous and my throat smuggling an angry badger, but I was extremely worried about putting myself and my weaker-than-normal immune system at risk. I had these visions of suffering though a miserable flight only to discover that, once I got to Michigan, I felt even worse than I did standing next to my bed, and I was sharing a bed with an angry badger, no less.

I tried really hard to convince myself otherwise, but I was forced to admit that coming to Penguicon would have been a bad experience for everyone involved. I got sick at PAX last year, and though I did my best to tough it out, I wasn't 100%, I was too tired to have nearly as much fun as I wanted to, I disappointed a lot of people, and I got to spend a full week recovering when I got home. The idea of being 1000 miles from home and feeling like I did last night in my own house – or worse – was just too much for me.

I called Brendan, told him the bad news, and went back to sleep where – I am not making this up – I had a dream that I was riding in a car with Felicia Day, sneezing all over the windscreen.

I know this isn't the first Penguicon I've missed, and I've certainly earned your enmity (that's +1 to your attacks against me until the end of the encounter, and you get to roll twice, using the better roll, which is pretty sweet) but I wanted to offer a thought that I hope brightens your weekend: I've been attending cons for pretty much my whole life, and while it sucks when someone I wanted to see cancels for one reason or another, it's never made a con not fun for me. The panels and the guests and the signings are just one part of a con, and over the last 25 years or so, that's never been the part that sticks with me and makes cons memorable. It's being with my fellow geeks and fans, and the things we did together. It's the gaming, and the nitrogen ice cream, and the serendipitous meetings in the halls and the room parties.

All that's still going to happen, even though I can't be part of it, and you're still going to have an awesome time. Penguicon isn't about me, it's about you. (It is also, as it turns out, about making John Scalzi dress up as a pirate. Sorry, John.) If you were coming to Penguicon to see me do my thing, you have every right to be unhappy with me, and I take full responsibility for letting you down. It's really important to me that you know this, though: I didn't blow you off, guys, and whether you accept that or not, its the truth. I did everything I could short of putting myself on a plane against my (and my doctor's) better judgement to be with you right now.

It's not enough, but "I'm sorry" is the best I can do. I was really looking forward to finally meeting Elizabeth Bear in person, utterly destroying Shawn Powers in Combat, cheering with all the locals when the Wings crush the Ducks tonight, and hanging out with Andrew and John Scalzi and Cherie Priest, three of my favorite people in the world who I don't get to see nearly enough. In other words, you are not alone in your disappointment and I totally understand if you want to hate me to death (provided whatever I have doesn't beat you to it.)

Have a fucking awesome weekend (isn't it funny to see Andrew say "fucking?" he's not nearly as profane as I am so it always makes me giggle. Let's do it one more time: fucking awesome. Ha. Ha. Ha. HAHAHAHA!) and say it with me: Don't be a dick.

less than three,


93 thoughts on “To everyone at Penguicon:”

  1. “The cool boys bit the dust, they couldn’t take the pressure… the cool girls got knocked up, they only wanted to have fun…”
    Love your stuff. Keep it up.

  2. Hope you feel better soon. Sorry you and your wife missed out on the premiere. Make sure you stay hydrated, maybe you will drown the angry badger. 😉

  3. Ouch, I’m sorry you feel crappy. And for missing Star Trek, which sounds like it would have been fab. Hopefully you’ll get to go along to the premiere of the next one? I doubt JJ is going to let go of Trek in a hurry so there will probably be a next one…
    Sounds like you did the best you could to get well for the con. I don’t think anyone would have wanted you to go if all you could have done was either stay in bed in a different city or lie with your head on the table going “UUUGGGH”.
    Not to mention, if the hysteria over there is anything like at my workplace (in the UK) you might have been called a vile pestilence carrier and hounded out for sniffling. Because apparently the sky is falling and the damn pigs have killed us all, don’t you know.

  4. Aww, poor Wil. =( That totally sucks, for all involved!! Being sick is always total fail. I do hope that you get well soon. And I’m sure the people there understood through their disappointment, don’t take it too hard.
    If it lifts your spirits any, know that while I loved both the original and TNG (nothing that came after), I’ve never considered going to a Trekkie con, until now! It’d be awesome to meet you!! =D
    And on another entirely unrelated note, you never cease to amuse. I just got Dancing Barefoot yesterday (ordered from Amazon the moment I found out about your books!!), opened the box with my goodies (after squees of giddy joy, first, of course), looked through them all, flipped through some pages, ya know, the norm. Then within about 3 minutes, picked up Dancing Barefoot, and read it straight through, much to the chagrin of my ignored fiancé, laughing heartily all the while. (Well ok not through the sad bits, but, you know!) I cannot wait to get Just a Geek!! (that one comes separate because Amazon fails and they have no copies! Only from sellers. Whose prices started at $25 for “new” copies. When there was a collectable new copy, signed by you!, for just $35, so of course I opted to pay the $10 more and at least get the potentially new condition book with a signature, than a simply potentially new condition book. ;D

  5. Yes, Danyiel, the symptoms for CFS can be the same as EBV. But a person can have one without the other, or not have had EBV at all. And not have the same symptoms either.
    I’ve had CFS going on 17 years now, and every time Wil writes about being sick and going anyway, I get a familiar RED ALERT feeling.
    Mine was gradual onset after my husband’s accident (trauma case turned me caregiver for a year), until I finally got that cold I never rebounded from energy-wise.
    And I didn’t really wholeheartedly even believe in CFS back then, I thought people just weren’t really doing what their docs told them.
    har har. Joke’s on me.
    This drug, that drug, these supplements, this food not that food; been through them all and still sick.
    Sorry, didn’t mean to soap box. But I worry.
    So Wil, I’m VERY GLAD YOU STAYED HOME. I worry that you have the potential to become the next member of You DO NOT want this illness. Or it could take you as long to write your next book, as it did for Laura Hillenbrand to write hers.
    How does ten years sound?
    Now Wil, if you’ve read this – STOP IT AND GET SOME REST!
    Sending healing thoughts to all…..

  6. Hi, Jsy. I’m doing a couple of panels today (“Can I Be Your Friend?” at 11:00 and the self-publishing panel immediately following). I’d be happy to sign autographs, as long as people don’t mind the collectible value of their book going immediately to zero. And I’m doing my best on the awesome dood front, but I’ll leave that to others to judge.
    Wil, if you would like me to report in person, I would be happy to do so. We could meet in New Mexico; that’s halfway.

  7. Wil,
    Hope you get to feeling better soon sir. Sinus infections blow big fat donkey weenis, I get them all the freaking time too 😛 If you havent man try a sinus rinse, doesnt cure it but it sure does let you breathe normal for a few minutes.

  8. Im more disappointed that you didnt get to see Star Trek. On that same front, Im majorly disappointed that theyre not showing it in Charlottes OmniMax theater.
    Get well soon, and take care of yourself!

  9. I’m suddenly very glad I had no idea Penguincon was in Detroit. Because if you had gone I found out about it later I would have been quite peeved at myself. But now I can just sit here in Toledo and wish you a very speedy recovery. I too know the misery of sinus crap so I really mean it when I say get well soon.
    And also, Go Wings! (Ozzie! Ozzie! Ozzie! :)

  10. Hey Wil,
    I’m sorry that you got sick. It sounds pretty horrible. I went to Penguicon last night to see you read. I got there at 9:30p and hung around for about 20 minutes until someone said that you weren’t doing a reading and weren’t coming to the convention (they still had your name on the door of the conference room, as a speaker). I asked them for a refund for me and my sister, who only went to the convention to see you speak, and they wouldn’t give us a refund. I totally understand why you had to cancel, but I think it was incredibly rude of the people at Penguicon. I checked their website right before I left to go there and they still had you on their event calendar as a speaker. I’m not a fan of conventions, and would not have spent $20 per person to hang out there. I felt a little gypped. I know you probably can’t do anything about it anyway, but I just wanted you to know that is how Penguicon rolls, I guess.
    Hope you feel better,

  11. Wil – that sucks. Take care of yourself. And to think I was coming over here to post for the first time and say something snarky about how unfair it was to have both Scalzi and Wil offline at the same time. I mean, where am I supposed to go for my blog fix?
    Then this. Consider the snark calnceled. Get well.

  12. Jeez – it was a *gorgeous* apology, but really, when you beat yourself up, you lose twice the HP (and the GM can’t figure out who attacks first). Just get better, you big snot balloon.

  13. It may have been done, but if not (I haven’t read every comment), I fulfill my duty now:
    Badgers? We don’t need no stinkin’ badgers!

  14. Wil gets full recover if Felicia Day comments about the totally bizarre dream!
    ps- Wil, long time reader, first time poster. you are teh roxxor!

  15. I hope you are feeling better by now. If you have fans that give you a hard time because you can’t be somewhere, then they don’t deserve you.
    What do Badgers eat? Maybe if you feed the Badger he will leave you alone. (They probably eat insects and twigs though. . . )
    Best Wishes.

  16. Wil,
    hope you feel better, sad you missed the Star Trek premier with your wife . You would have set a bad precedent signing that woman’s breast because I would have had to ask you to sign my manboob at the next Sacramento con!
    I have to admit to a little bit of the “Wesley Crusher hate club” thing in my day but your blog and the simple fact that I would have given one of almost any duplicate body part to have been in your shoes changed that reality.
    Get better and come to Sacramento again so I can say hello and buy a book or two.

  17. I would have paid to be there to see my brother do this for Wil. LOL Sounds like he nailed it. Andrew really is an awesome d00d – who knew?! =P
    Hope you feel better, Wil. I’m sorry you couldn’t be there.

  18. Dude your freakin me out! I went thru the same thing a few years ago and had a relapse this week. Back in ’03 when I was trying to understand “what the hell is wrong with me?” I ended up in the office of a neurologist at UC San Diego. He was the for former chief virologist for the US Army in Vietnam…
    After looking me over, getting me to touch my nose and walk in a straight line, he sat me down and said, “Son, back in Vietnam, the boys would come out of the jungle with some very weird viruses. I can’t say if you have Epstein-Barr, mononucleosis, or something else, what I can say is that in my professional opinion, you definitely have a very weird virus.” He then told me to go home, try to get out of bed and get on with my life. A few “months” later the symptoms went away as mysteriously as they appeared.
    Every now and then, like this past week, they come back, usually only for a week or two, and usually in winter or spring.
    Here’s a link to something I found interesting. After all the blood tests for Mono, and liver tests for Hep A/B/don’t ask, come back negative, check this out. The whole thing may be in your stomach, not your blood.
    PS: If you find yourself spazzed out, I can’t play my normal killer chess game when “the virus has me” for example, consider that half your brain is in your gut!

  19. PSS: What if the virus we both have was brought back to the States from returning Vietnam soldiers who were infected deep in the primordial jungles in the 1960s and 1970s and has slowly spread throughout the entire population?

  20. Take it easy and get better, Wil. With all the strange stuff circulating around right now, definitely best not to expose yourself to anything that might make you worse.

  21. I am SO sorry you & the missus missed the Star Trek premiere, wow that must have sucked! I feel your pain (well, not quite literally, but y’know…)
    Only thing to say is get well soon – I’m in the UK so Penguicon was never in the offing for me, but had it been a UK con, well, I wouldn’t have been so upset, shit happens. Hope you get better amazingly fast, and sending lots of good wishes!

  22. I’m thinking it’s a full moon, since I’m dropping by after a long absence, but it’s really SNAFU, since you’re ill. Take care of yourself!

  23. I wss bummed you couldnt make it, but being sick like that? No way, you stay home, take care. I couldnt make it to Penguincon either and have been bummed all weekend.

  24. Bah!
    Go Ducks! (Not that I’m a bitter CBJ fan or anything)
    Wish I could of seen the game today. Triple overtime!
    Wowzers. Watched part of it in Toledo at Tony Packo’s!
    I firmly like 1+2 and would like to subscribe to the newsletter!

  25. I really apologize that I was not able to find you this weekend. If you are in the Ohio area for Marcon or at any event where Barfleet will be at you will get the VIP treatment you were owed at this event.

  26. I think I had a pretty VIP weekend, actually, but I very much appreciate the thought. Dunno if I’ll be at any Ohio cons in the near future, unfortunately.

  27. I saw a walrus the other day and he asked if I read Sunken Treasure and I was like totally and the walrus asked to borrow it but I said no because he would get it wet and he couldn’t turn the page with his flippers.
    Anyway, Hello from the Bering Sea! Feel better.

  28. Get rest. Feel better soon. but look at the bright side…
    This could be a very good excuse to put GenCon Indy on your list this year. More Wil in teh midwest!!!

  29. Wil,
    Hope you’re feeling better. I don’t want to post my overly long gushing about my first Penguicon trip here, but I hope you give it a read.
    Here’s the short version: Did I initially commit to the trip because you were supposed to be there? Yes. But now I owe you, because it turns out to have been a truly magnificent weekend with my daughter at a con I probably wouldn’t have discovered on my own.
    Thank you.

  30. Hey Wil! I hope you’re feeling better, I know how hard it is to cancel an appearance, but don’t worry, as I’m sure you’ve heard, everyone was totally cool at Penguicon. You were missed, but fondly. ^_^ I was looking forward to meeting you as a fellow GoH, plus we have a mutual friend/evil conspirator in Jamais C who keeps insisting that we should mindmeld, so I hope our paths cross in the future. Take care of yourself! Jane McG

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