My Road to Worldcon 76. Part 2: Who the hell is John Picacio?

Hector Gonzalez
Sep 18, 2018 · 4 min read

Let me preface this article by being vulnerable and honest. I’m sorry, John Picacio. I’m very sorry.

In my previous post, I shared how I was one of the 50 fortunate Mexicanx selected to receive a Worldcon 76 sponsorship. It made me ecstatic and howled, danced and rapped (to myself) extensively about how happy I was to be chosen.

There was a small thing. I had no idea who John Picacio was.

I didn’t know what I was getting myself into

I’ll confess that I have a flaw that some people might see as a good thing. I’m eager. If I find something interesting, I’m not the type that dips his toe to see if the pool is warm, I just jump without care or planning. This flaw will play a part later on this post.

Back to John. After our first interaction I checked his Twitter profile and website. I had a passing idea of what he had done but that was all. Talented artist, worked with George R. R. Martin within his Game of Thrones universe. His Loteria series drew my attention and were quite stunning.

I even remember the first conversation I had with my dad about being a Mexicanx recipient. He was initially wary, doubting a stranger on the internet would give away something like that. I explained the situation and mentioned John’s name. “¡Si! ¡John es un monstruo de la ciencia ficción!” Translation note: If I tried to literally translate what my dad meant to say, it would sounds as if John was a monster. My dad meant it more as “He is HUGE in the science fiction world.” Bottom line, he knew more about John than me.

Let me explain: I had consumed science fiction and some fantasy but not too avidly since I arrived to the US, almost 15 years ago. I must confess that I tried to keep reading some of my favorite authors but I didn’t try too many new things. My reading tastes had ossified, which I didn’t know until a recent conversation with fellow Mexicanx recipient Libia. After I left a job at a bookstore in California, my reading tastes had gone stale.

The first four Mexicanx Initiative recipients were announced on January 29th, 2018. Two professionals, one a famous creative from Mexico, the other one a cultural consultant from Coco. The two fans included were the poet named SMOK and me. Now that I look at my description, it feels a bit pretentious. I should have gone with Professional Abuelita.

Initial four. A good start

A few days after the first announcement, John called me. I expressed my gratitude for the opportunity and how excited I was about being part of this. He was polite and kind, as always. “Hey brother,” he characteristically started, “I’ve been checking your Instagram and wondered if you would be interested in catering the Mexicanx Initiative reception.”

Gratuitous foodporn

“Of course!” I heard myself answering, without thinking, “It would be my honor.”

“I’m glad to hear that, brother! I’ll send you an email soon with more details”

Here is an example of my eagerness doing it’s thing again. It also includes a healthy dose of Not Wanting to Disappoint Others and Be Liked.

When catering events there are a few small things that I should have asked before saying YES blindly:

  • How many people will I need to feed?
  • What’s the size of the venue?
  • Any dietary restrictions?
  • Will I have a commercial kitchen to prepare everything?
  • Which is my budget?

I hope you noticed but I DID NOT ask any of these questions during my conversation with John. I was very excited to be asked something so important and a little bit nervous too.

I also thought “This shouldn’t be too hard, right?” You should know I’m also a bit of an optimist. I call this part of me “Mexican Pollyanna.” Anyways, I felt very flattered by John’s request. Funny how things happened next.

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