So Eastercon has been and gone once again in an other-worldly flash.
I’m not going to do a con report – there wouldn’t be any point because I didn’t do much except talk to people – but here are ten impressions that have managed to persist through the haze of alcohol and sleep deprivation.
1/ Where did they put them all? I’ve been at every Eastercon since my first one in 1994, bar one – which was the last time it was held at Heathrow. I think that was 1996, and I remember thinking it was a weird sort of place to hold a convention. Would anyone go? Well loads of people went to this one, many more than an Eastercon normal sees. The funny thing was that you never really saw them. I suspect the hotel’s weird geometry neatly packed the extra bodies into alternative dimensional spaces.
2/ The business end The first (and really only) thing that I really had to do during the weekend was have the “agent chat”. Having arrived in the bar a little early I got myself a drink and waited while he conducted a meeting with another client. Only, as the hour arrived, for him to get up suddenly and sprint out the door. Not the most encouraging start, but once we’d sorted things out it was a good meeting. Meetings with my agent are always good meetings, and I always leave inspired, enthused and optimistic.
3/ Comparative beerological economics So after last night’s GSFWC I bought a round of 2 pints of Smiths, 2 of Real Ale and 2 bags of crisps at the Wetherspoon. It cost me £8.70. A similar round in the Con bar (actually bars because you couldn’t have got all that in the one place) would have been half as much again. In the Polo Bar (I keep wanting to say “Polo Lounge” for some reason), it’d have been doubled. And the beer wasn’t as good. It’s a small gripe, but I’m just saying. It was a pricey old weekend.
4/ Oh, curry where art thou? The one thing I really missed this year was the communal curry. Some of the guys went for one on the Saturday when I wasn’t around, but in general Heathrow doesn’t lend itself to popping out to sample the local cuisine. Bradford, nxt year should solve that issue.
5/ New books for old Allowed myself a small splurge on books for the first time in a few years. Here’s the haul: Celebration (BSFA 50th Anniversary anthology) edited by Ian Whates, Myth-Understandings (latest of the NewCon Press anthologies) also edited by the ubiquitous Mr Whates, Other Voices by Andrew Humphrey (bringing me up to date with Elastic Press, and pre-ordered the next two as well), The Reef by Mark Charan Newton (superbly presented novel from Pendragon Press, from a writer I have really high hopes for), The Situation by Jeff Vandermeer (georgeous wee novella just out from PS, see 6/), Debatable Space by Philip Palmer (was introduced to Philip during the weekend, and will be interested to see if the TV drama side of his work influences his space operas).
6/ Here’s The Situation I’ve been looking forward to reading Vandermeer’s The Situation ever since I heard he’d sold it to PS. Vandermeer and PS is a marriage made in heaven. Truly lovely book, I read a little each morning and a little each night during the con. It’s a baroque, grotesque redrawing of contemporary office politics that’s pretty hard to describe, but I saw a description of it that summed it up like this: Dilbert in Gormenghast. That pretty much nails it. Buy it and read it, and never complain about your 9 to 5 again.
7/ One for the road Monday at cons, you get restless and bored. You’re pretty much talked out, and everyone else feels the same, so you go looking for diversions. The book room’s a good standby for a diversion. Normally I go in looking for a handful of new books I’ve heard about and want to pick up, and my eye blocks out everything else. A convention Monday is the time to go and actually look at all those old PBs, and wonder what they’re actually like. I got it into my head that they were exactly the right size for my jacket pocket and would be ideal fodder for the airport, so I set myself the challenge of finding a classic novel of no more than 150 pages, with not too gaudy a cover and costing less than two quid. This proved a challenge because there were hundreds of books that fit that bill. In the end though I settled on Vance’s The Killing Machine, and you know what? It’s brilliant fun. I think I shall make this an Eastercon ritual.
8/ There’s a little sausage! I was accosted with those words on Saturday night. I won’t say by whom or what they meant by it, just that I took it as a compliment. Of sorts.
9/ All the people, so many people At this point I should point out that the thing I like most about cons is having chats with my friends. It’s great to meet old friends, even if it’s only in passing in the corridor, and meet new ones. That for me is what cons are all about, and the real reason I don’t go to that many programme items. And this year the programme was burgeoning with good and varied things to go see – of the things I did see I enjoyed a right good presentation of Andrew J Wilson’s play about Rod Serling, The Terminal Zone, Gaiman and Ryman talking enthusiastically about Fantastic London, and the rather giddy fnarrfest that was Sex And The Singularity that had moderator Paul Raven trying to hide in his beard in embarassment.
10/ The wheels on the bus Fun as the whole convention business is, I was very glad to get away from it all on Saturday and visit my sister’s house for dinner, where my brother, sister, brother in law and I were treated to a rock concert by my 2 year old nephew. The boy’s got talent. He’ll go far.
All in all a grand weekend.