The last time Everett Mills ran into George R.R. Martin, it was around 1985 in Kansas City at a Howard Johnson hotel that has long since disappeared.
Mills, of Kansas City, Kan., recalled that Martin was in the midst of working on his science fiction-horror “Nightflyers” series.
So when Mills reminded the prolific author of that meeting on Saturday again in Kansas City, the two shared a brief moment of reminiscence.
“He said, ‘That was a long time ago,’ ” Mills said. “It had been for me, too.”
Mills left the Bartle Hall convention center with a signed copy of Martin’s more contemporary work, “Game of Thrones.”
Mills was among 80 people at MidAmeriCon II — the moniker for this year’s edition of the WorldCon — who waited to get a book or two signed by Martin on Saturday afternoon.
Martin’s stature as an author has grown in the 40 years since Kansas City last hosted the world’s annual science fiction and fantasy convention. And so, too, has the convention itself.
Martin recalled MidAmeriCon I, held in 1976 in the much smaller Muehlebach Hotel in downtown Kansas City.
“It was so convenient to have everything in one place,” Martin said, decked out in his trademark T-shirt and suspenders.
But Martin acknowledges that the erstwhile convention in Kansas City took WorldCon to a newer, bigger level. That year, attendees got a sneak peek of “Star Wars” before the rest of the world got its first look when it was released a year later. It also spawned the Hugo Losers Party, an afterparty for writers who didn’t win a Hugo Award, science fiction’s top prize.
The gathering will repeat itself again this year.
This year’s convention is sprawled out across seemingly countless rooms and hallways at the convention enter. Speakers in conference rooms discussed topics ranging from David Bowie’s legacy in science fiction to developing tabletop role-playing games.
Chris Barkley, spokesman for MidAmeriCon II, said that by early Saturday afternoon, more than 7,000 passes had been sold with more than half coming from sales at the door.
Among those was Sue Ellen Colter, a Philadelphia woman who had attended Worldcon events in places like Japan, Toronto, Los Angeles and Glasgow, Scotland.
It was that Glasgow event where she stayed at the same hotel as Martin, and the two would share a conversation and a stroll between the hotel and the convention center there.
This time around, she waited until the crowd of Martin enthusiasts got their books autographed, sometimes twice, before paying him a visit once again.
“He’s a very nice, giving person,” Colter said.
MidAmeriCon II runs through Sunday.