I had grand pans of blogging, or at least tweeting, during the con, but due to the lack of iPhones in Australian stores and not finding time to discover how to buy wifi time at the convention centre, those plans just never came together. So here are my notes on each day of the con:
Once we’d arrived, registered and I’d picked up my programming schedule, we joined everyone milling around waiting for the opening ceremony to begin.
There was the usual welcome and introductions, and a very amusing film. After it the ceremony finished, I headed for the dealer’s room. Lots of people had the same idea, so it was very crowded and I only managed to see part of it. I bought some books and kept bumping into people I knew. Con time set in (where it goes way too fast unless you’re stuck in/on a panel that isn’t going well) and suddenly it was time for my first panel.
“Magic Mean Streets” was about setting stories in cities. My fellow panelists were Ellen Kushner and Carol Ryles. We explored reasons for preferring the urban scenario, and advantages in sticking to it rather than wandering around. My mapping experience came in handy when the discussion turned to naming cities.
Next was the launch of Helen Merrick’s The Secret Feminist Cabal by Tess Williams and the 30 second opening ceremony for Dudcon, held in the Hilton bar. We joined a bunch of fans for dinner on the promenade, with the gas towers providing entertainment for locals and visitors alike. Then Paul and I headed home.
The next morning we started early, getting up at 7am and catching the train in. I arrived at the con to find it quiet, but the centre filled rapidly and I found friends to talk to until it was time for the launch of Kaaren Warren’s anthology, Dead Sea Fruit. Karren is an amazing writer of horror and fantasy and a lovely person. It was a two-book launch, the other being Angela Slatter’s The Girl With No Hands.
Next I had an absolutely delicious lunch at Pure South with the lovely Tim Holman from my publisher’s New York office. We talked about the tour next year and the books I’ll be writing after the Traitor Spy Trilogy. Then I had to race back for my kaffeeklatch, which is now my favourite thing to do at a con. For the participants I brought the first, unedited chapter of The Rogue, signed bookplates and a card featuring my painting for The Novice. I answered questions and told stories to a lovely bunch of people, and the hour was over much too quickly.
Afterwards I headed back to the hotel to finally check in. We had quick early dinner then headed back for the Ditmar Awards Ceremony, which Paul was running. It went mostly without a hitch, and we had enough time to get back to hotel and change into our costumes for the AHWA Nightmare Ball.
There were some fabulous costumes there. Plus champagne and dancing.
(first photo by Orbit Australia)
It had been a very long, busy day and by the end of the ball we were too tired to check out parties and went to bed.
Feeling better than I expected to after such a long Friday, I went to the dealer’s room to check out what I’d missed before. I ordered t-shirts and bought a bag, and a steampunk pendant from Dark Nouveau. I checked out the art show and was very impressed by the high quality of work there.
I finally saw a panel: “The Writer and the Audience: Online interaction and public personae”. In my notes I wrote “… trick of carrying on a conversation with a million people, but each feels like he is making eye-contact” and “Not separating friends from professionals/readership is a cardinal sin”. We also learned of ‘Twitter valets’ – people who are hired to write someone else’s tweets. (I’d never do that – I’m having too much fun over on Twitter!)
I had to leave early, since I had my second panel to get to: “Thinking in Trilogies”. This time I was panelling with fellow Aussies Glenda Larke, Russell Kirkpatrick and Fiona MacIntosh. We all have very different ways of writing, which made the discussion interesting to us as well as the audience.
Afterwards I headed to the dealer’s room again to sign books at the Orbit table. I’d bumped into the much-loved former ‘web goddess’ of the Voyager Online forum previously and suggested dinner, then set about gathering anyone from that old circle of friends I could find. We ended up with 14 people, which proved difficult because, despite us meeting at 6pm and heading straight out, most restaurants were too busy to accommodate a group that large. Eventually the people at Left Bank put us on a table usually reserved for customers waiting for a table. Top marks for this restaurant, by the way. The food was great, and I got that rare feeling that the staff were happy and enjoying themselves.
Afterwards I met up with Paul at the London in 2014 party. We bought supporting memberships. Hopefully they’ll win the bid and we’ll be able to come to the UK for Worldcon in 2014.
I’d thought that, with only one program item to attend each day, I’d have plenty of time to see program items at the con, but it wasn’t turning out that way. I decided I had to make a greater effort to see panels. So I headed for “Anachronist Fiction: Successors to Steampunk” to see where this sort of fiction is heading (since I have a bit of a story idea that might be kind of ‘punkish’). It was very thought-provoking.
At midday I did a signing. At the beginning of the con I’d left some books at the free book table and, as I’d hoped, some people had picked them up, liked what they read and bought more. It also meant that I was busy signing for the entire hour – a benefit I hadn’t anticipated. And I also signed The Tentacle!
I grabbed a quick lunch with Paul and Joel Shepherd, then headed back to see more panels. First there was “Dreaming Down-Under, Again” then “20 Years of Aurealis”. I was surprised at how nostalgic the latter made me feel (I worked as designer and Art Director for the magazine for nine years). Afterwards I headed for the dealers room yet again, where I bought the Classic Australian SF series the team have put out.
By then it was time for the Hugos. First we hit the Hugo reception party, at which there was much schmoozing and admiring of evening dresses, then the Awards. Finally, I invited the very talented new writer, Foz Meadows, to be my ‘and guest’ as Paul was helping tidy up and would meet me later. There was much hob-nobbing with famous people and I watched with amusement as China Mieville was surrounded by an ever growing circle of giggling girls as the night progressed. Afterwards we lingered at some of the other parties before heading back to our room.
(last two photos by Paul Ewins)
I started the day chatting to members of FWOR in the hotel cafe, then picked up the t-shirts I’d ordered and buy yet more books. I fit in another panel: “The Lure of a Good Map” which was good and reminded me of how awesome DM Cornish is. After lunch I had my last panel: “Getting Edgy: the disreputable protagonist in modern fantasy” but was worried that I’d have to do it on my own since all the other panelists were either sick or had gone home. Fortunately the lovely Campbell winner, Seanan McGuire had joined the panel, Ellen Kushner made it after all, and my pal Jane Routely roped in the crime writer Lindy Cameron, who I once worked with, back in the olden days at Lonely Planet Publications. Afterwards we retreated to the green room for tea and coffee, and I taught Ellen Kushner and John Clute how to do a tim tam slam.
Then it was time for the closing ceremony. This involved a lot of declarations of ‘it was great’ but also ‘never again’. There’s always that anxiety in the last days of a con that it’s all going too fast, but by the time you get to the last day you’re ready for it to become a wonderful memory – and get some sleep.
And then get stuck into reading all the books you’ve bought…