Since I had no checked baggage I went straight to the public transit area after landing, where fortunately a bus headed downtown was waiting. It took me right to the building where my friend and ex-boss Heather works. After showing me her office's view and handing off a copy of Avalon Hill's Civilization that her "husband" no longer wanted, we went out to lunch at a place called the "Noodle Ranch" nearby. The food was tasty.
We split up and I walked down to Pioneer Square and the Elliot Bay Book Company. It is a large bookstore with a very nice interior and what looks like a good selection; the SF section had at least one book for sale I hadn't seen elsewhere, although I knew of its existence (Daniel Keyes Moran's Terminal Freedom).
After about a half an hour's browsing I took the bus (for free, as I was in the "downtown ride free zone") most of the way to the Seattle Center, walking the rest. Along the way I took a picture of a sign that would appeal to those with a juvenile sense of humor:
and one of the Simpsons-themed 7-11s:
I then spent about an hour and a half at the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame. As a long-time SF reader, most of the interest came from seeing the various artifacts they had, largely from Paul Allen's personal collection. As I said to someone inside, many of us can collect action figures and the like, but when you get "Paul Allen rich" you can buy the actual props, costumes, and set pieces from your favorite movies and TV shows. One of the bits I found most interesting was a two-page spread from Analog magazine in the late '60s, one page with something like "we the undersigned believe the United States should keep its troops in Vietnam and fulfill its obligations to the Vietnamese people", and a list of science fiction authors, and a facing page with "we the undersigned believe the United States should withdraw its troops from Vietnam", and different list of science fiction authors of about the same size.
Chip Delany is a member of the SF Hall of Fame and I surreptitiously took a picture of his commemorative etched glass slab (you weren't supposed to take pictures inside the museum):
He also had a major chunk of a display on "Science Fiction and Society":
As you can see, books are part of the museum displays. I agree with ross_teneyck that part of the appeal is saying "hey, I have that exact same edition of that book at home!" (In this case I don't anymore, as I upgraded most of my Delany to the fancy university press editions that came out in the late '90s.)
After finishing up at the museum I decided to grab a quick bite at a place called "Grecian Corner" nearby, where I had the following exchange:
Waitress: What will you have?
Me: I'll have the keftedes.
Waitress: I'm sorry, we don't have those right now.
Me: OK, I'll have the païdika.
Waitress: I'm sorry, we don't have that right now either.
Me: All right, I'll have the pork chops.
Said pork chops where tasty but a bit overdone.
Then it was back to the venue where Delany would be reading (the "JBL Theater" at the Experience Music Project, which the SF Museum is attached to). I got there as the line was forming, such that I got a second row seat right in front of the podium.
Delany is a wonderful speaker; he read four passages from his latest book, Dark Reflections, some of which involved characters with very different "voices" and he protrayed them all marvelously. He confirmed the impression that I got from reading his autobiographical works, of being a very warm and charming person who would be at ease having a conversation with just about anyone.
Afterwards he signed books. When it was my turn I could help mentioning that I had come all the way from LA to see him read; he was kind enough to let me have a picture taken:
The copy of Dhalgren his left hand is resting on is now one of my great treasures, as it is signed not only by Delany, but also William Gibson, who wrote the foreward to that edition. Near his right hand you can see a replica of his Hall of Fame marker; he had not gotten one when he was inducted, as the SF Museum was not yet the custodian of the Hall of Fame at the time. He was given it before his talk and had it on the podium during the talk, facing toward him; before the Q&A period he said "I'm sorry, but I'm getting a little freaked out having this guy looking at me" and turned it around to face the audience.
The event now over, I had plenty of time to kill and it was about 10pm. I thought of trying to catch a movie, but unfortunately all of the downtown theaters had already shown their last shows. I hoofed it from the Seattle Center down to Pioneer square again, but nothing was open except a couple of bars. I did get an interesting shot of the Space Needle through an alleyway, though:
And, another funny sign:
Now, because I didn't want to bother with paying for a room, or taking an early-morning bus ride to the airport from the home of one of my Seattle friends, I had decided to sleep at the airport. That was perhaps worth doing once, but not again. (And yes, clynne, you told me ahead of time that it was a bit of a crazy idea.)
The ticket agent was nice enough to check me in 7 hours before my flight was supposed to leave. I went over to the satellite terminal from which I would be departing, found a secluded couch, and lay down to sleep at about midnight; however, I was woken up at about 1 by a worker who told me I had to go back to the main terminal, because the one I was in was shut down from 1-4 every night to save energy. So back I went, where I found another secluded place, but had to endure very loud automated PA announcements every half hour or so. I managed to sleep fitfully until about 6, when I went back to my departure terminal, and soon boarded for my 6:50 flight, which was only about 1/4 full and where I got some more rest.
I got back to Burbank at 9, and since my office is across the street from the airport, I was able to go over, shower, and be right at work. However, I was not as well rested as I had hoped I would be. I wasn't getting a whole lot done and wound up coming home at about 3:30.
So, less-than-optimal lodging aside, I am very glad I took my zany one-day plane trip to meet one of my literary idols.