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A rather belated photo from Eastercon (Messrs Jarrold, Courtenay Grimwood, McDonald and Ryman) Williams is amused as the group mind takes control of the male award participants...

(Copyright Ian Whates - thanks, Ian!)

BSFA awards BSFA awards

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We had a smooth run down from Chester yesterday, taking the roads through the Marches rather than the motorway. The countryside is beautiful right now. We stopped off at my parents' for dinner and then caught up with a friend in Bristol, before returning to a household of indignant animals.

The general consensus (geddit?) seems to be that Eastercon 07 was a great success, and my formal thanks to the con com will be going off shortly. This was a rescue con, after the collapse of the Liverpool E'con, but it seemed well organised and efficiently run. It was also laid back and we loved being in Chester. I won't out the friend in question, just in case, but fully concur with her summary that 'there were only 3 things wrong with this hotel. The microclimate, the lack of beer, and the unfeasible number of ground floors.'

The air conditioning was indeed Saharan. I have shed an entire layer of facial skin, something I'm sure you really wanted to know, and everyone has sinus problems. Apart from that, we were really impressed with the Crowne Plaza.

Personal highlights:

- the sudden appearance of a 7 foot high SPIRITED AWAY demon behind the audience during a heated moment during the 'gender imbalance' talk. If I appeared momentarily stunned, this was why. Later, the demon came and stood in front of the Witchcraft stall for some time and eventually a very little voice came out of it. "It's very hot in here!" it said.

- the person who very kindly offered their hall costume award to a friend of ours, who unfortunately was not in costume: she just dresses like that.

- and seeing swathes of Milford folk, as well as many other people.


Mar. 28th, 2007 10:59 am
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We caught the LIRR out to Ronkonkoma and were met by Blaine Atkins. This is the first I-Con I've attended, and it was a pleasure. We both thought it was a really well-organised convention. I kicked off with a panel on the Tarot with Rachel Pollack - it was lovely to meet Rachel after several years of reading her work and selling her books, which are big sellers in the shop. Rightly so. I've been reading tarot for over 20 years and I learned a lot from Rachel this weekend. We have an interview with her (I hope) which will go out at some point on the radio show over the next few weeks.

I was also pleased to make the panel, because we got lost in the building and ended up in a service shaft. "Sorry, your Guest of Honour didn't make her first panel - but we've had a look at your boiler and everything seems fine."

Then we went to the 'meet the pros' party and I met a pro! - namely Jeff Ford, whom I really don't get to see as often as I'd like. Jeff reinforced our inadvertent wisdom in not managing to hire a car and taking the train, as the expressway was apparently a nightmare.

Saturday saw me on a number of panels and a signing, all of which went well - thanks to everyone who attended. It was nice to see Catherine Asaro again, likewise Sheila Williams and a whole bunch of other people. In the evening, we went to the banquet and I collected my award, which really is an honour. Trevor, when told who would be guesting at the con, managed a modified wow for Claudia Christian and a really big WOW for Roger Corman, who also attended the banquet. He loves Corman movies.

The only non-me related panel we managed to attend, unfortunately, was Claudia's - there was one immortal exchange:

Attendee: So, do you watch anything on TV that you'd not be interested in appearing in?
CC: [after slightly baffled pause] Porn??

I had a very interesting panel with William Friedman and John Norman on creating heavens and hells - it must be said, I am not a fan of Gor, but John was funny and charming.

On Sunday evening, Blaine and his wife and Diane very kindly took us up to Port Jefferson for dinner at a very good Italian restaurant. It was interesting to see some more of Long Island - especially as I know Bridgeport a little bit, and that's directly over the Sound. PJ was a charming little town.

I'm aware, in writing these reports, of possibly sounding over-effusive about everything and everyone. Unfortunately, I can't tone it down, as it's true. I suppose I might adopt an attitude of aloof cynicism - nah. We've loved our visit and the people we've met. Huge thanks go to the con com, for making I-Con such an easy and enjoyable experience for us, and for inviting me in the first place. And thanks also to the staff of the Green Room - this made a huge difference to our experience as guests and we really appreciate all your hard work.
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The BBC very kindly sent a taxi to collect me at 7.30 this morning. Arrived at the Taunton studios well before time and was installed in the usual boot cupboard with headphones and a mike. Gareth was in Bristol and I'm not sure where John Humphries was...anyway, I have grown used to regarding the physical presence of presenters as a luxury where the Beeb are concerned: it's usually a countrywide thing.

I thought Gareth was extremely cogent. I could have done with slightly more penetrating questions, but not to worry: we seem to have acquitted ourselves reasonably well. After the interview I was abruptly cut off and put back in the taxi for the station, reaching London well within time for the signing. A big thank you to Forbidden Planet for hosting, and also for your lovely sandwiches. Great to see [ profile] caskared and Simon!

Also good to make it down to Picocon, Imperial College's one day convention. I caught the discussion on SF and politics between Farah, Charlie S and Ken McLeod - very interesting, and has given me some food for thought. And it was just nice to have a bit of time to chat to people. Note to the Sid fans: I may never play the violin again, but medics tell me that the scar tissue will eventually fade (in preparation for the signing, I varnished my nails, but then ruined the effect with an unwise cat pat: Sid has laid the back of my hand bloodily open, requiring elastoplast. He seemed very smug about this).

And I have seen a fish fight, which I gather is an integral part of Picocon, whether or not it actually happens. As we were watching this, a young student came up to me and asked what was taking place.

"It's a fish fight," I said.
"But what," he frowned, like Roland Barthes, "Do you actually mean?"

Alas, it is exactly what it sounds like.

After all this I had a quick, quiet dinner in an Italian place in S Kensington, before catching the train home - delayed, due to a fight in the buffet car, but we all got free tea.


Oct. 4th, 2005 09:59 am
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Friday: hied myself up to Northampton, accompanied by an item from the shop for a customer. We considered what would happen if the customer wasn't in, and wondered whether we could leave the item with the neighbours. Then we looked at it: a 5 foot long gnarled ash staff with two antlered prongs at the end. Perhaps not. So I rang up and made a proper appointment, for which I was late - someone having thoughtfuly dumped an oil slick on the motorway sliproad. It took 4 hours to get from Gloucester to Northampton, and an hour and a half to get back, put it that way.

On arriving at the hotel, I discovered Ian Watson, Jon Courtney Grimwood and a host of other people, and then it was off to dinner at a local Chinese buffet. After that, we went to a Gothic pub across town and of course it rained (Williams here having ignored the English climate and chosen to wear a velvet coat). I was such a diva over my hair ("It's ruined! RUINED! I can't appear in public for the next 3 days") that Ian Watson has expressed his intention of only having bald guests at Newcon in future.

Drink was taken on the Friday night.

Saturday: IW, briefly possessed by the spirit of HG Wells, conducted the opening ceremony, which was held in the spectacular confines of N'hamton's Guild Hall - a really stunning piece of Victorian Arts and Crafts Gothic architecture. Then various panels took place, and various other writers showed up, including Gwyneth Jones and Sarah Singleton - great to catch up with both of them, and congrats to both on being shortlisted for one of the UK's main YA awards. During lunch, JCG and I were disconcerted to find that we have managed to produce SF/noir/fantasy crossover novels, each featuring a Chinese detective, both out in the same month. Neither of us have discussed this before and JCG hasn't read any of my Singapore 3 short fiction, so it must be a meme. I'm looking forward to reading his 9TAIL FOX, however - it looks like a great read.

Northampton has a town jester - a former actor who somehow managed to persuade the town council that what they really, really needed was a jester in residence. Normally I cringe at this kind of thing, but he managed to be highly entertaining.

In the p.m. I was interviewed by Cardinal Cox, who did a great job, and then went to a panel on Viking life, which was most interesting. That evening, we ate at the local Indian and Gwyneth expressed her ambition to become a hedgehog breeder. Then back to the ceilidh, and after this JCG and I walked back to the hotel through an average Saturday night in a small English town - vomit on the streets, belligerent confrontations and punch-ups (that was just the girls) and the emergency services on stand-by. That night, someone overdosed in the hotel and tried to kick down a door, and a fight broke out in a wedding party. As I say, an average Saturday night.

Sunday: more panels, though I must apologise for the lack of enthusiasm displayed for the 'Just A Minute' thing - we thought we'd be really crap at it. So when the moderator didn't show up, we bailed to the Bed Of Nails display - kudos for all who took part, especially to the jester for having a concrete slab broken across his abdomen. Also kudos to fantasy writer Steve Cockayne for the puppet display: he grew up in a puppet theatre and now makes marionettes of all his characters. His parents apparently ran a puppet show based on Journey into Space in the 50s, with a marionette Martian monster.

And finally back to Gloucester and my long-suffering family, and then home to Glastonbury. I enjoyed this convention more than I've enjoyed a con for years - it was well organised, well timed, in a great setting and with some lovely people. Thank you.


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