The Real Story
by Eileen Gunn
(For Lunacon, 1994)
You people attending Lunacon probably think you know a lot about Vonda N. McIntyre, right? That’s why you invited her to be Guest of Honor, right?
Well, you’re wrong. Maybe you know some things about her. Maybe you know her books, for instance. Maybe you know her unassailable generosity and strength of spirit. Maybe you even know her middle name. (I will not reveal it here, but it distinguishes her from her mother.)
But do you know her lost novel Droomslang, her secret persona Ygor, her clandestine taste for country music? Do you know that she used to stable her horse where Microsoft sits right now? You don’t? Then you do not know everything about Vonda N. McIntyre. Come closer, and I will tell you more things of which others are unaware.
Very few people, for instance, know that Vonda keeps a large personal menagerie of wild snakes, tame wolves, and cloned dinosaurs, plus a huge mole named Philby that sleeps on the hassock in her office, and a wolverine named Ursula, of which she is inordinately fond. In addition, Vonda has created an urban-wildlife rescue area, with crocuses, on the parking strip in front of her house. It attracts and nurtures native Seattle wildlife, such as raccoons, possums, wombats, slugs, grunge bands, and bald eagles.
She also controls a vast woodland empire, where she’s building a stately pleasure-dome out of recycled popsicle sticks. She personally oversaw the planting of thousands of tiny trees on this preserve, which contains a trout-stream with genuine trout in it. She feeds the trout home-made chocolate-chip cookies, which they take from her hand, emitting chirps of pleasure. From time to time, salmon wend their way upstream to spawn. it’s extremely bucolic and picturesque, or will be when the trees get bigger.
You are all aware, I am sure, that Vonda is a superb cook, specializing in certain Seattle delicacies: coffee, chocolate decadence with raspberry sauce, and the occasional geoduck sushi for fiber. But not many of you know that she prepares an excellent hot-and-sour soup. It’s true, and if it were more widely known, she would undoubtedly have gained an unsought three-star rating in the Guide Michelin, and the crocuses on her parking strip would be overrun with BMWs. So we’ll let this be our little secret, won’t we? And you might keep mum about the chocolate decadence, too, while you’re at it — there’ll be all the more for those of us in the know.
This weekend you will witness Vonda’s ability to make an elegant personal fashion statement: suede boots, silk shirts, the restrained use of gemlike color. I will disclose here the darker side of her fashion sense: the stuffed effigy of a beaver (Castor canadensis) named Roscoe that she dressed for Westercon last summer. Roscoe, bedecked with velvet, satin, gold spraypaint, brass chains, and iridescent glow-in-the-dark fishing lures, like some sasquatchian Infant of Prague, may foreshadow an in-your- face, go-for-broke rebellion on Vonda’s part against her accustomed wardrobe. Or he may not.
Many people writing about Vonda would mention how responsible she is, how loyal to her friends, how helpful to those in need. Such talk makes her seem much older than she is, and gives the impression that she’s part sheepdog and part boy-scout, which she isn’t. But I would like to add here that Vonda can be a very forgiving person. How do I know this? Well, one lovely June evening, I lured her to a railway siding where the Survival Research Laboratories seated her amongst tall strangers, then assaulted her with noise and drenched her in crickets and rocket fuel. She forgave me for that. She may even, some day, forgive me for this biography.