Log in

Recent Entries Friends Archive Profile Tags Jeamland
I hardly know where to start with this. Perhaps with a disclaimer: this is not the sort of con report that contains substantive panel notes. It turns out that I generally suck at taking notes, and at attempting to recreate what was said after the fact. So this is emphatically my con, what I was doing and thinking (often, it seems, being completely oblivious to how other people were feeling), and given that it runs to about five thousand words I wouldn't blame you one bit if you skipped it.

Thursday August 4th

I flew up from Heathrow. It turned out that I was on the same flight as truecatachresis, squigglyruth and applez. Off and on, we entertained ourselves trying to spot other potential con-goers, largely based on what they were reading; was that battered black paperback a copy of Good Omens? Elsewhere, Tom was travelling up by train, and seemed to have us all beat, reporting that every single person he could see in his carriage was a fan. despotliz and greengolux were (separately) ahead of us, and also checked in. Liz reported that she got lost twenty minutes after arriving in Glasgow, only to find salvation in the form of a light rail station full of Americans.

We arrived in town around lunchtime, and after some debate decided to drop by our hotels before proceeding to the con. I think I still owe Zac money for the taxi ride. The two of us, plus Tom, snowking and Geneva, were in the Quality Hotel, on the corner of Central Station. After dumping our luggage, we decided to walk along the riverside to the SECC, taking advantage of one of the fried-and-battered-food places along the way.

My first impression of the con was simply that it was big. My second impression was much the same, as was my third. Talk about perspective: I travelled up feeling that yes, I knew plenty of people, and that it was going to be great seeing them all. Screw that. I didn't have difficult finding the people I did know--I bumped into mattia, giantbedsprings and nuttyxander at registration, found lamentables and abrinsky on the BSFA stall in the dealer's room, and so on--but the sheer number of people wandering around the concourse was intimidating. Of course, after the fact I love it, love reading other people's con stories and seeing how they thread through and around my experience, seeing whether they intersect even a little bit ... but that afternoon I was daunted.

So, I reassured my ego by wandering around the dealer's room and collecting publications featuring reviews that I'd written. And the first panel I went to was The Art of the Reviewer (Elizabeth Hand, Mark Kelly, Paul Witcover, Gary K. Wolfe, L Boisdale-2 1700). It was interesting, but returned to the question of reviewing one's friends a little more than seemed necessary (I appreciate--now more than I did before the con--that it's an issue, but it's not the only issue), and in any case I couldn't stay to the end. I had to rush off to the Green Room (or more accurately, Green Corridor) to collect my thoughts on sandwiches.
The Algebreadist (M Argyll-1) 1800
If you cut a sandwich in half, do you have one sandwich or two? Third Row Fandom contemplate the great philosophical questions of our time, and make a tasty snack.
Tom Anderson, Liz Batty, Niall Harrison (M), Andrew Hogg, Alex Ingram
The M means I was moderating, although that it quickly became obvious that that was only a polite fiction. The Algebreadist was not a panel that welcomed moderation. It quickly became a whole-room discussion, and far more fun that it really should have been, from the lady sitting in the second row who prefaced her remarks with "In my years as a professional baker..." to grahamsleight's admirable attempts to answer the question by application of sf critical theory (and Tom's robust reaction to his invocation of Damon Knight). If the wrongheads carried the day, well, that's a price I'm willing to pay.

By the end of the panel, we seemed to have collected most people who are, were, or might be part of the third row, and we all went out for dinner. I don't remember anything about that evening's conversation at all, but I do have a photo.

Starting bottom left, going clockwise: squigglyruth, mattia, part of snowking's head, Tom, truecatachresis' forehead and hair, fba, giantbedsprings, our waitress, applez, ajr, greengolux' forehead and hair, nuttyxander, despotliz, and, er, some guy Liz knows. Phew.

Of course, afterwards there was only one possible choice of entertainment: I'm Sorry I Haven't An SFin Clue (Ben Jeapes, Tony Keen, Ken Macleod, John Meaney, and Christopher Priest; M Argyll-1, 2200) , which was made no less entertaining by the fact that one team had clearly done far more preparation than the other. I'm not sure anyone could have stopped Chris Priest's puns even if they'd wanted to. Mind you, given that Ken Macleod apparently hadn't ever heard, or even heard of, I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue until a few days before the con, he did remarkably well.

At this point I thought I more or less had a handle on the con. The population of the real ale bar and fan room had distilled to being the population of an Eastercon, plus about ten percent. This, I thought, was manageable. Ending the day sitting around eating See's Candies, provided by Zac, didn't hurt.

Friday August 5th

Friday began on a surreal note: my travel radio refused to tune neatly to Radio 4 FM, and instead insisted on either providing the music of a popular beat combo as a soundtrack to Today's interview with George Galloway, or descending entirely into white noise. It was also the first day of the two-stop feeding strategy. Our hotel, you see, included an all-you-can-eat buffet breakfast in the nightly charge, so I decided to full advantage and go for three courses (full english, then toast, then a bowl of cereal), on the grounds that I didn't want to have to waste time faffing around with anything so trivial as lunch. It's probably a good thing for my digestive system that the con ended when it did.

First panel choice of the day was Character vs. Science in Hard SF (Greg Bear, Patrick J. Gyger, James P Hogan, Justina Robson, Stanley Schmidt; L Lomond, 1100), which turned out to be a mistake. There were a few points of interest (I hadn't heard Judy Del Rey's definition of a novel as 'a story about people we care about solving problems that matter' before), but by and large the discussion was desperately old-fashioned. And occasionally offensive: I felt desperately sorry for Justina Robson when she had to sit there and listen to Greg Bear say, with a straight face, that 'I have noticed that sf readers prefer physics and females prefer biology'. It was clear that she was the only panelist who actually had coherent, current things to say on the topic, but it looked, at least to me, like she was deliberately limiting her contributions lest she get ganged up on by the other four.
"What does the panel think about the observation that in films, scientists have a higher death rate than gunslingers?"

"It's well-known that gunslingers are terrible shots. But scientists are the ones creating bombs and biological clouds--and you know, it's hard to escape from those area-of-effect weapons."

-- Justina Robson responds to a question from the audience.
After a brief stint on the BSFA stall (during which I almost signed nwhyte up as a member under the wrong rate, and said a brief hello to Gordon van Gelder), I went to Fantastic Cities (Jeffrey Ford, Ian R. Macleod, Michael Swanwick, Claire Weaver; L Carron, 1300), which was excellent. Much discussion of the qualities cities typically evoke in fantastic literature, why they are useful (Jeffrey Ford: Every city is a palimpset of history), and what the differences are between writing about real and imagined places (Ian Macleod: Cities are people's unplanned effects on the landscape; you have to leave gaps to make extra stuff up).
I arrived for the panel late, and went to sit behind those third-rowers present (Ian, Mattia, Zac and Tom, if memory serves). Not too long after I sat down, I realised that had put me in front of Gavin Grant, Kelly Link, Christopher Rowe, and a sleepy Gwenda Bond--people I'd had a small amount of interaction with via the magic of the interweb, but also people I felt a little presumptuous about introducing myself to. I spent a few nervy moments paralyzed by indecision, I decided to throw caution to the winds and wave my name-badge at them (er, yes, while the panel was going on: I wasn't thinking clearly. I don't think I annoyed anyone too badly, though). Fortunately they didn't seem to think I was a crazy person, even when I had a fanboy moment about being introduced to KELLY LINK (Mr Grant quite fairly clipped me upside the head for this). My virtuous plans of going to other programme items that afternoon somehow evaporated, and I ended up wandering around to the Moathouse bar with them and having something resembling a proper conversation.

There I met other people, including, finally, Chance, who persuaded me it would be a good idea to go to Mr Rowe's reading. I'd never really done the reading thing at previous cons, but I'm glad she made me go to this one; both for the reading and the story. It was an excerpt from a novel-in-progress set in the same milieu as 'The Voluntary State' and on the off-chance Mr Rowe is reading this, yes, you really really do have to finish it soon. Afterwards, by way of retribution, I dragged Chance off to Graham's panel What's real and what's not: Christopher Priest and reality (Andrew M. Butler, Paul Kincaid, Graham Sleight; L Boisdale-2, 1530), which was fascinating (and a little disturbing when they started talking about a character called Niall, and how to pronounce his name), but at times, thanks to my woeful lack of Priest-reading, went a little over my head.

Back to the bar again, this time with Graham in tow, where we found zarabee and nuttyxander, and heard the rumour about the Scottish part of Newsnight coming to the con.
"So, if Newsnight is coming, which author would you most like to see get the Paxman treatment?"

"I'd like to see him ask Harlan Ellison, 'When is Last Dangerous Visions going to be published?' Eighteen times, if necessary ..."

-- Anon
The sercon part of the day was more or less over by this point, give or take Graham reading and commenting on a draft review of Specimen Days for me. The next programme item we went to was Call My Bluff - SF Theory (John Clute, Esther Friesner, David Hartwell, Roz Kaveney, Gary K. Wolfe, Oliver Morton, and I think a couple of other people as well), which was exactly as you might imagine from the name: a variation of the panel game, in which one team offered three definitions of an sf theory term and the opposing team had to guess which was the true definition. Seeing Clute define 'interstitial' with a straight face has to be a con highlight, and Wolfe was excellent as moderator. Someone should get him a stint on some Radio 4 panel show. Possibly even a stint on Have I Got News For You.

This was followed by Reductio ad Absurdum's production Lucas Back in Anger (which featured brixtonbrood, was hilarious in parts, featured the entire audience playing the kazoo in others, and dragged somewhat towards the end, though I think that was largely due to a technical failure), after which it was time for dinner again, this time at Mother India. I'm not sure whether I should say I went with the third row and Graham, or whether Graham could be considered to have been assimilated by this point. Whatever, the company and conversation and food were all excellent. We went on to the Hilton briefly, afterwards, but they seemed to be part of a completely different con to the one I was enjoying, and there weren't many people we recognised, so we didn't stay long.

Saturday 6th August
"So, Mr Chairman, to clarify, the question is, 'should we substitute the section that says 'move by substitution''?"

I went to the WSFS business meeting on Saturday morning because I'd heard that that was when the vote to grant Black Juice extended Hugo eligibility would take place. As it turns out, the vote had been the previous day--and passed with a healthy majority--but I was in the right place to see the last part of the wrangling over the proposal to split the 'Best Editor' Hugo into 'Best Editor: long form' and 'Best Editor: short form'. It, too, passed comfortably, and will go to LAcon next year to be ratified.

Saturday was my main day of being on programme items. First up was Not The Hugo Award (Lou Anders, Charles N Brown, Ginjer Buchanan, Niall Harrison (M), and Gordon van Gelder; L Alsh-1, 1200). It wasn't the same as the Eastercon panel of the same name--most of the panellists hadn't read all the novels (Gordon van Gelder hadn't read any), so we decided to cover short fiction as well, but Ginjer Buchanan hadn't read any of that--but it seemed to go reasonably well. And nobody tried to defend the short fiction list much, which was nice. Prediction-wise, we didn't do great. We all assumed, for instance, quite incorrectly, that the irresistable force of Lois McMaster Bujold would triumph over the immovable object of Charles Stross in the novella category.

Immediately after that it was time for the Black Juice Book Group. Throughout the con there were various book groups for various recent award-winners (Iron Council, Troll), or for books by the Guests of Honour (The Separation). Black Juice hasn't won any awards (yet), and Margo Lanagan wasn't at the con, but when the programme was being worked out it seemed like a good idea to give it a book group anyway, because it's fantastic. I was nominally the moderator, but I didn't do much; if I remember rightly, the attendees were Gary Wolfe, grahamsleight, greengolux, zarabee, chance88088, Kelly Link, Gavin Grant and dev_iant and frankly, with a group like that it would be almost impossible to have a bad discussion. I think we talked mainly about 'Singing My Sister Down', 'Red Nose Day', 'House of the Many' and 'Rite of Spring'; about the use of language and culture and music in the stories, and about how they defy categorisation.

The next thing I'd planned to do was to go see Gary Wolfe and John Clute in conversation, but I ended up missing that and instead trawling the dealer's room with Graham and Mattia. It was a slightly disappointing experience; I couldn't find books by any authors I was actively looking for (notably Johanna Sinisalo, Cathrynn M Valente, and Karl Schroeder). That said, I did pick up, mostly at Graham's recommendation, Look At The Evidence by John Clute and Rogue Moon by Algis Budrys, and I did get to tell Mattia what to buy, so it wasn't a complete waste.

Soon enough it was time for The Magazines are Dead: Long Live the Magazines (Ellen Datlow, Gavin Grant, Niall Harrison (M), Jed Hartman, Gordon van Gelder; M Orkney, 1700). In some senses, this was my baby; I certainly helped to pick who was going to be on it, and I think I may have even come up with the title. And, in the event, I was pretty happy. It seemed a fairly relaxed, fairly wide-ranging discussion of various aspects of the current online and offline magazine and small-press market, that never got locked into the 'magazines are dying omg!' conversation of doom (in fact, apparently F&SF's subscription base is up 10% for the year so far). It was trivial to moderate--everyone bounced questions off one another quite happily, and I think there was only one awkward pause in the discussion--and it basically did what I wanted it to. Whether it did what the audience wanted it to is open for debate; at one point, someone asked how many members of the audience were writers, and as far as I could tell the only four or five people who didn't put their hands up were third row and third row affiliates.

At the end of the panel, apotropaism and one of her brothers came up to say hi, and we ended up going on to Growth of the Slipstream (Hal Duncan, Colin Greenland, Elizabeth Hand, Kelly Link, Mark Rich and Delia Sherman; L Boisdale-2 (again!), 1800).
"Every generation reinvents slipstream--that's why it has so many names"

-- Mark Rich
I have to say I found this one a bit disappointing, not least because it seemed to end up suggesting that slipstream is only a matter of technique. Colin Greenland proposed that slipstream stories are ones where the fantastic and domestic elements are handled in the same way, for instance; but that means the only genre boundaries they slip between are the marketing ones. Of course, whether there are any genre boundaries other than marketing ones in the first place is always up for debate. They ended by asking each panelist to recommend some further reading, at which point I found myself surprised to have read and to be agreeing with every one of Kelly Link's choices--except one (Bel Canto by Ann Patchett) which I have now added to my wishlist.

By this point I was starting to get hungry, big breakfast or no, so apotropaism, brother and myself went on a brief restaurant reconnaissance. Failing to find anything, we returned to the concourse, got drinks, and loitered, at which point various people began to accrete around us until we had enough for a dinner party. Ironically, when we had enough it was time for the Masquerade, which apotropaism didn't want to miss, so I ended up going for a pleasant dinner with sdn, nwhyte, Andrew M. Butler and Elizabeth Wein, at which I learned slightly more about what fiction editors actually do, and discovered that prior to the day's panels Gordon van Gelder had asked Sharyn, 'I'm on a panel with this guy called Niall Harrison. Do you know who he is? He seems to have read everything.'

Later in the evening, I finally got the point of room parties, as well. The Anonymous Claire party, as organised by hawkida was brilliant; I remember See's Candies, I remember conversations about Olaf Stapledon and Virginia Woolf, about slipstream, and about Stephen Baxter (with, variously, Zac, Mattia, Geneva, Zara, andrewducker, alexmc and others), I remember playing human hoopla with glowing light-sticks, and for reasons that must have seemed convincing at the time I remember skipping with the same. I think there may be video evidence. Later on I went down to join Chance, Gwenda, Nancy Proctor and Karin Lowachee in the bar (via introducing lamentables to Kelly Link and if you'd suggested to me forty-eight hours earlier that I'd be in a position to introduce anyone to Kelly Link I'd have just laughed at you) to talk about Wiscon and awards and furry fandom. One of those things may have broken my mind.

It was a good day. It was only on the way back to the hotel that I started to get the creeping realisation that it was all going to end in a couple of days, and that whatever I did I wasn't going to see everyone or do everything.

Sunday 7th August

Having spent most of Saturday being on programme items, I was determined that Sunday would be my day of going to programme items. So, the first thing I did was to go to five, back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back.
  1. The aesthetics of fantasy: writing the fantastic (Susanna Clarke, Greer Gilman, Farah Mendlesohn, China Mieville and Michael Swanwick; L Lomond, 1000).
    "sf is the literature of the transcendent; fantasy is the literature of the immanent."

    -- Greer Gilman
    This was an excellent panel, and I wish I'd had the presence of mind to record it. Interesting thoughts about what predisposes people to read or write fantasy (is it a matter of having very few preconceptions about the world?), and on how language is used to create a consistent world (Strange & Norrell, for instance, considered as a net of 'English voices': Austen, Dickens, Trollope, Nesbitt).

  2. Where is the heart of the genre? (Lou Anders, Harry Harrison, Paul Kincaid, Ian R Macleod, Stanley Schmidt; L Lomond, 1100). This panel, about the relative importance of novels and short fiction in the field, wasn't as good as the previous panel, and I'm not sure why. Anders had a list of the right questions, and there were interesting points made by peake about, for instance 'the heart' of the genre as compared to 'the core' of the genre, but the discussion never quite came alive.

  3. The British Boffin: An sf stereotype dissected (Francis Spufford, Stephen Baxter, Liz Batty, Ken Macleod; L Alsh-1, 1200). Now, this was excellent. Some of it I'd inevitably heard before, having seen Spufford talk at other times, but plenty of it was new and lively. As a sidebar, I'm a bad Stephen Baxter fanboy: this is the only item I saw him on for the whole con.

  4. Waiting for the fantastic: what is known but never stated (John Clute, Grahamy Joyce, Kelly Link and Graham Sleight; M Orkney 1300). I'm quite impressed that I managed to make it to this one, given that it was in the teeny-tiny Orkney room on the other side of the convention complex and that it was, unsurprisingly, crowded. I'm very glad that I did, however. A good deal of debate about how and why to read stories that leave you unsure as to whether they are fantastic or not (leading to some energetic hand-waving from some members of the panel); I could have done with hearing slightly more from Link and Joyce, and slightly less from the audience (except Kate Eltham, who kept asking the questions I wanted to ask but better), but in general the discussion was excellent.

  5. Sorting sf after 200 years (John Clute, David Langford, Daren Nash, Peter Nicholl; A Gala-1, 1400). A cunningly mis-titled panel, this; if Graham hadn't clued me in just before it started, I would never have guessed that it was about the impending third edition of the Encyclopaedia of SF--which will, apparently, be available online and updated monthly. That can't be a bad thing.

There followed half an hour of mild frenzy, as I realised there were three separate things I wanted to go to, and indeed had committed to go to, at half-three. A reading by Gavin Grant; a panel on science fiction cities to complement the fantastic cities panel of a couple of days before; and a book group discussion of The Separation. In the end I persuaded Tom to record the cities, went to Gavin's reading (which was good, though I was disappointed he didn't read his Scifiction story 'Heads Up, Thumbs Down') and then caught the second half of the book group (after tracking it down; they'd moved outside on the grounds that the original room allocation suffered from filk noise pollution). No problem. Then I realised that it was only an hour and a half until the Hugo reception, that I hadn't eaten since breakfast, and that I wouldn't get much of a chance to eat afterwards, so arranged a dash into Glasgow to find pizza with Tom, Zara, Liz, Graham, and everyone else. I even made it back in time, too, more or less, although I had to abandon my ice-cream factory to do so.

So, the Hugos. Mark and Claire fishlifter, as Hugo nominees, had generously invited Geneva and myself as guests, which got us into the pre-ceremony reception, into the reserved seating area at the front of the auditorium, and into the post-ceremony party. All of which was a strange mix of extremely cool, and terrifying. Kim Stanley Robinson walked past, and about all I could manage was a slight wibble; and that's not to mention that everyone else seemed to know each other. I did manage to get myself together for long enough to start a conversation with the charming Benjamin Rosenbaum, otherwise known as the human dynamo (I believe Liz' description, after seeing him on a panel about blogging, was that he was not unlike Tom, except fuelled by joy rather than hate). Seriously: we started talking about the Dark Cabal, and about anonymity, and then we were talking about Cheap Truth, and suddenly he decided we needed Eileen Gunn's opinion on the whole affair. So he dashed off around the party looking for her, me in his wake; we didn't find Gunn, but he did spot Ellen Datlow, so he dashed over to her instead and had a very intense five-minute conversation that ended when he did spot Gunn. I'm not sure I can remember what conclusions were reached, other than that Gunn looked me up and down and told me I looked like a young William Gibson (a sentiment echoed, slightly disconcertingly, by several other people later in the evening). At this point Chris Rowe and Gwenda Bond appeared to join the conversation, and to explain that they'd been debating about who the tallest man in sf is: me, or John Kessell, or Geoff Ryman? We eventually established, I think, that I take the title in the under-30s category, if nothing else.

And then it was time to go into the ceremony. Geneva and I waved at the rest of the 'row on the way. I was blogging the results live, and since it was the first time I've been to anything like this, I was unjaded enough to find it exciting. It didn't hurt that the right things and people kept winning. Oh, the short story category was a mess, but then it was always going to be; and obviously I'd have loved River of Gods to win, but it came second, and Strange & Norrell is still a damn fine book; and I have a complex reaction to the best short-form dramatic presentation result, but '33' is still good. Fundamentally, there's not a lot to complain about, which made me feel surprisingly warm and fuzzy. This is the first set of results this decade that don't feel like a hangover from the nineties.

After a brief photoshoot, we hustled onto a topless bus that whisked us away to the Hilton and the Hugo Loser's party, where I found myself unexpectedly popular by dint of (a) being able to use my futurephone to email news of the results to people who weren't there and (b) acquiring electronic copies of the nomination and voting statistics for the evening's awards. Turns out that sf writers and editors can be stats geeks too; who knew? The novel list attracted some attention for being so heavily British right down to the end of the top fifteen (only one US author and two Canadians), and for the fact that Terry Pratchett declined a nomination for Going Postal. It was also heartening to see that peteyoung was only inches way from getting Zoo Nation nominated for Best Fanzine, and to see that Matt Cheney wasn't a million miles away from making the ballot for Best Fan Writer. But the main highlight of the party was getting the chance to talk to various people properly. And, of course, working out my to-do list for the next five years ...

I left about 2am, and navigated by dead reckoning back through Glaswegian housing estates to the Moathouse and the fan room. Once there, I think I more or less just collapsed into a daze--for which mokatiki may be partly responsible--and watched the Plokta cabal (and others) play silly games with Hugos until stupid o'cclock.

Monday 8th August

Having had pretty much my ideal con day on Sunday, I wasn't terribly surprised that Monday felt anticlimactic. I was a little surprised by how many people were leaving; I'd assumed most folks would hang around for the dead dog and go home on Tuesday. My first wakeup call of the day was bumping into Caroline Mullan, in need of a substitute for a politics panel due to start in half an hour. Thanks to the miracle of mobile telephones I was able to track down applez and persuade him to leap blindly into the fray. Remarkably, he doesn't seem to be holding it against me, and in fact claims that he enjoyed the experience.

I was on a couple more programme items as well. Firefly, Battlestar Galactica and other new sf tv (Tobes, me, Paul Cornell, someone else whose name I've forgotten; YAFA, Hall 3, 1100) was my first encounter with the Young Adult stream. In the event, the audience leaned far more towards the 'adult' than the 'young'; and despite my best intentions, I found myself debating the merits of Doctor Who with Cornell. Oh well, never mind; at least the audience seemed to find it entertaining, and Cornell seemed to take it with good humour. After a quick final mooch around the dealer's room I went to prepare for my second encounter with YAFA. The Future of Fandom (Julia Daly, Fran Dowd, Flick, Niall Harrison, Pete Young; M Argyll 3, 1300) started out like a retread of so many previous panels, including the one at which the third row were identified. What the audience didn't know, however, was that the answer to the question 'where will the new young fans come from?' was 'that door over there'. About half-way through the panel, hordes of armoured and armed YAFAites charged into the room, led by James Bacon, and set about attacking everyone present. Luckily, we'd been forewarned, and pulled out a stash of fully operational water pistols from beneath the table. I think it's fair to say it was a break from tradition. I think we were all slightly baffled by the insistence of some audience members on carrying on the discussion even after the original panelists had left, but sending in YAFA for a third time did seem a tiny bit mean.

I seemed to spend the next few hours bouncing back and forth between the moathouse and the dealer's room: after the Fannish Closing Ceremony in the former (featuring interpretive dance by ang_grr, to narration by David Levine) it was back to the latter to beg, borrow or steal some review copies for Strange Horizons (some people very generously gave me a lovely t-shirt, as well). Back to the moathouse to say goodbye to Chance and check on the plans for dinner that evening with the third row; back again to the dealer's room to start packing up the Foundation stall; out to the concourse for a coffee (well, hot chocolate for me) with the other people packing up the Foundation stall; and then back again to carry heavy boxes from the dealer's room back to the moathouse. At the end of all this, I collapsed on a patch of grass with most of the rest of the third row to discuss our thoughts on worldcon (a transcription of which should be appearing in a Meta near you).

Monday evening saw Liz, Mattia, Rachel, Andrew and myself leave the con and go into glasgow to meet the lovely brassyn and the equally lovely hawleygriffen. During dinner we phoned immortalradical and made him sing down the phone at us because the music in the restaurant was so bad. I'm still amazed he obliged. We made it back to the dead-dog party around eleven, but I was too dog-tired to stay for long, so said my goodbyes and wandered, with greengolux, zarabee, snowking, mattia and Tom, back along the riverside (for the first time since the first day of the con) to the hotel, and bed.

I still can't quite believe it's all over, or that it happened at all. Everything I write to describe Worldcon seems woefully inadequate. It's the size, but not just that; it's the people, but not just that either. It really is a community, a township that comes together for five days and then dismantles and disperses. In a lot of ways, I feel as though I had my ideal con experience: a mix of meeting new people and spending time with old friends; a mix of participation and watching; a mix of silly and serious. And somewhere in the last six months I seem to have gone from feeling a bit like an outsider looking in to feeling like I'm more on the inside looking out. Part of this con was adjusting to that; it wasn't too painful. It almost seems like a shame we have to wait ten years for the next one.
Didn't skip a word; it was a fascinating report on all the things that I, personally, missed! Thank you.
You're welcome. I'm trying not to think about all the things I missed ... :)
Nice review.
You make me sorry I didn't manage any programme items, there seemed to be a lot of interesting stuff going on (I famously only manage to get to the programme items I'm involved with) and lots of different people, with lots of different expectations of the con, seem to have had a good time.

Hugo ring-toss is fun, the champagne helps, of course.

xx FF, who has just waved her post worldcon guests off and it now well knackered.
I want to live at WorldCon. I barely made it out of YAFA and when I did it was no further than the Fan programme (Plokta con lite). I want to see all the rest as *well*. I'm pleased and kind of proud of the things I was involved in - the YAFA stuff particularly but also the AnonC party since people keep giving it good reviews despite not remembering a whole lot about it.
Oh, man, yes. Going through the programme to work out what I'd been to, I kept spotting things I really wish I'd found the time for ... :)
While I'm envious that you met up with so many cool people-known and unknown. This was a very insular con for me.
Good con report, though I dispute I dragged you to Chritopher's reading - I'll take the credit for Gavin, but you wandered to Christopher's all on you own.
Was I planning to go to that reading before I met you? No. Therefore, it's your fault. QED.
I ended up missing that and instead trawling the dealer's room with Graham and Mattia. It was a slightly disappointing experience.

I suspect by that point wave after wave of hungry fans with money to spend had swept the dealer's room dry of all the good stuff. This was probably to my advantage, in a way, as it meant I didn't buy even half as many books as I feared I would. Though I can't say it was disappointing for me as I did manage to get a copy of Damon Knight's Humpty Dumpty, An Oval, which I'd been looking for for what must be around seven years.

I collapsed on a patch of grass with most of the rest of the third row to discuss our thoughts on worldcon

Does the recording actually have anything on it other than wind noise, then? Certainly for large parts of it, all I was hearing was the wind.
The dealers' room was disappointing well before people started buying what little there was on offer. I was shocked by how sparse and uninspired it was.
I suspect by that point wave after wave of hungry fans with money to spend had swept the dealer's room dry of all the good stuff.

Hmm, I'm not sure things were all that much better on Thursday.

Does the recording actually have anything on it other than wind noise, then?

Oh yes. Much more. I have a full transcript already, if you want me to email it to you...
Hmm, I'm not sure things were all that much better on Thursday.

Perhaps it depends on what one is looking for in a dealer's room. From my perspective, when I arrived on Thursday and had a quick look around half the dealers room, there were quite a few books I saw around that I had to stop myself buying because I wasn't sure if I had them or not, and in any case surely Thursday was too soon to start spending money in the dealer's room.
Of course, when I later established that I didn't have these books (Slapstick, or Lonesome No More, Tower of Glass, a number of Clifford Simak's) and went back looking for them, they'd gone.
To mention a specific dealer, Porcupine Books had a table stuffed full of cheap books on the Thursday. Then by Friday it seemed depleted by half already. Had they brought enough books to keep the table fully stocked all through Worldcon that alone would have made the dealer's room much better for me (and also worse, probably), but I can understand why they didn't.

I have a full transcript already, if you want me to email it to you...

Ooh. If you could, that would be great. Thanks!
I understand that Porcupine, at least, was expecting rather more competition in the matter of selling cheap second hand SF books. Certainly other Worldcon dealers' rooms, and other convention dealers' rooms, normally have more. I was terribly disappointed with the dealers' room, where I bought dice and naught else.
The dealer's room seemed sparse to the point of tumbleweed drifting across the aisles. There were buried gems (I saw three of the four-volume Neveryon series, autographed by Delany, going for £2 apiece), but overall, for perfectly understandable exchange-rate-and-air-fair-ish reasons, it was very disappointing from where I stood.

Example: At Readercon, I held off buying a copy of Gregory Frost's Attack of the Jazz Giants (Golden Gryphon, 2005) in the sure and certain knowledge that someone in Glasgow would have it. But when I looked round on Thursday no-one seemed to have any recent Golden Gryphon books at all, and that didn't change as the weekend went on. So I bought it in Forbidden Planet today...
Humpty Dumpty: extremely cool book. Be very interested to know what you think of it.
I'm not sure when I'll manage to finish reading it - I've a small pile of library books I have to polish off and return first - but I'll try to write a bit about it on LJ when I do.

I did read a bit of it at Worldcon and it struck me as being nothing like any Knight I'd read previously, and very reminiscent of Vonnegut.
That's a wonderful review - makes me wish I had been able to see some of the con instead of just haring about all the time organising it ...

We are going to be collecting reviews and personal perspectives for a memory website for the convention - would you be willing to have this reprinted there?

Colin Harris
Sure. And thanks for doing all that haring about organising. 'twas much appreciated. :)
On another note, can you help with this?
Done - see comment inserted in the sub-thread.
It really is a community, a township that comes together for five days and then dismantles and disperses.

Having to wait until the next time you can all meet up is the worst of it. Especially if you live in a SF fan desert as I do in Hereford. World con was great for me and for Faldo in that we met so many old friends and made many many new friends from all round the world.

However, had a taxi driver from the station who on hearing that I had been to the World SF Con decided to tell me how he believed that the moon was hollow and that it was put there by aliens, he had read it in an nonfiction book, oh god why me, thankfully it was only a five minute journey.
It really is a community, a township that comes together for five days and then dismantles and disperses.

Travelling circus. Definitely. *nods*
they never expected us a THIRD time
No one expec.....
I'm kicking myself for missing The Aesthetics of Fantasy; but did Greer Gilman say that fantasy is the literature of the imminent or the immanent? The latter would make more sense...
immanent. (My notes on the panel are over on my LJ, amid very many others. Many more words than coalescent, though most of 'em other people's.
Aha, you spotted my deliberate mistake. Well done.
Actually, Black Juice had won a Ditmar Award for Best Collected Work (and Singing My Sister Down won Best Short Story). OK, so the Ditmars are only the Australian awards, but we like to think they matter :-)

Glad it got the extension -- I've had others quite independently talk about doing a Hugo push for it next year.

Wish I made it to as much of the program as you did.
I'd completely forgotten about those; my apologies!

There appear to be differing reports about the extension, which worries me. I mean, I got it from someone actually at the business meeting, so you'd think they'd have it right, but...
I'm sure I read somewhere that while the umbrella extension was not passed, a special extension was granted for Black Juice.

Given that it's only going by a memory of something I read, the above should be taken with a punch of salt until solid proof is turned up.
Hmm. Maybe in one of the newsletters?
They seem to have reported the Saturday business meeting but not the Friday one. Bugger.
I was at the Friday Business Meeting, and that's precisely right.

The umbrella extension required a three-quarters majority and got only about two-thirds. There was a separate motion for Black Juice (which would not have been needed if the umbrella extension had gone through), which I don't think required such a large majority but (from memory) passed nearly unanimously anyway (it certainly passed).
Ah, excellent news. Thanks for the information.
That matches my recollection also. The argument against the blanket extension is that in a year when so many nominators are non-US anyway, it's not required. Enough people were persuaded by this to prevent the blanket extension reaching the required majority. The individual extensions only require a simple majority (IIRC). If you want exact details you can contact the WSFS staff at wsfs_bm@interaction.worldcon.org.uk.
Wait, when were they awarded? We were deciding to have the bookgroup in March of this year.
It only won those in June, so yes, it hadn't won any awards at the time the program was being worked out (but had by the con itself). Though I think Singing My Sister Down had already won and Aurealis.
Good report :-)

Although I find it difficult to believe that you only ate twice a day :-p
It's true! Ask Geneva or Andrew. I just ate a lot twice a day.

Next Saturday, it's entirely possible that I will only eat once. Just, you know, for about eight hours continuously.
Next Saturday, it's entirely possible that I will only eat once.

*is aghast*

Just, you know, for about eight hours continuously.

That makes much more sense :-)
some guy Liz knows. Phew.

Jack, aka cartesiandaemon.

I'm reading the rest of this monster thing tomorrow.
the fact that Terry Pratchett declined a nomination for Going Postal
Does anyone know why? I assume that he's done it before, but I was pretty surprised not to see GP on the list when it came out - it seemed so fan-friendly.
The only guess I heard was along the lines of him thinking that he didn't really need it and felt it would be better for someone else to get the nod.

The book that Going Postal would have replaced is The Algebraist.
..because Iain M Banks really needs the publicity of course (but I guess Pratchett wasn't to know that).
Pratchett delined because he has, apparently, had a bad time recently and wanted a relaxing enjoyable con without Hugo-related stress.

Read his comments about it on alt.fan.pratchett .

For what it's worth, I was the final panelist on Call My Bluff, due only to a last minute plug-in as a replacement for an announced panelist.

Tom Galloway
Ah, thanks. I arrived late so I missed the introductions.
good report. i'm still struggling through my full write up, wading through scribbled notes from panels, and working in where my pictures should fit into that flow.

its funny how perspectives differ, because i'm familiar with the SECC i wasn't really struck by it being particuarly large. though given i was there by myself perhaps i should have been more overwhelmed. i'm also in the "is that it" camp for the dealers room - i was pretty disappointed - i was hoping to fill some serious gaps in my collection. didn't stop my buying loads, especially from the cheap stalls, but i admit some of what i bought was for the sake of it rather than from the "wanted" list.

as for bel canto, shame you didn't know to look for it last year, it was part of the times weekly book for 99p - which is when i got my copy. though it took me till quite recently to read it. not sure if i would really class it as slipstream, but it is one of those categories isn't it. more than anything it reminded me quite a bit of iain banks's canal dreams, but i think i preferred bel canto.
I think you're very right about the parties at the Hilton being practically a different convention. It's not the location really, but the nature of a WorldCon in Britain.

The Moat House gave us the great pub that's to be expected at a British con, which, alas (staying at the Hilton) I spent far too little time in. The Hilton gave us a strange mutation of American-style room parties (a fixture expected at a WorldCon). While the Hilton and the party mavens were very welcoming, the smoke on the balcony level and the fact that it wasn't a regular hotel room that had been bent into shape for a party both made things feel weird.
"This was an excellent panel, and I wish I'd had the presence of mind to record it." Actually I did record this panel but I was 10 minutes late so I missed the start of it (I also recorded the Clute-Wolfe conversation and some other panels). I do not know if it is okay to make these files publicly available (probably not) but if anybody that is interested in some of the files below email me I will send the link to fetch them. 0375_Room_101.mp3 0725_Fractured_Narratives.mp3 0860_Aesthetics_of_SF.mp3 1215_Is_Genius_Gendered.mp3 1735_Mapping_Your_World.mp3 1850_Clute_Wolfe_in_Conversation.mp3 2120_Consciousness.mp3 2250_Drugs.mp3 2395_Aesthetics_of_Fantasy.mp3 2450_Is_Lost_SF.mp3 2580_Genre_Killing_Ideas.mp3 2670_Subverted_Elves_bad_sound.mp3 2765_Chris_Priest.mp3 2870_Get_Out_of_My_Ghetto.mp3 2985_Great_European_as_Fictional_Characters.mp3 3150_Finding_the_Fantastic_in_the_Baroque_Cycle.mp3 3225_Fantasy_Before_Donaldson_and_Brooks.mp3