The purpose of the trip was to take the opportunity to catch up with Jeff Vandermeer, a great friend who I’ve not seen for a couple of years. Jeff was there to promote the Polish release of his amazing novel, Finch, as well as his involvement with the Polish edition of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (whose editor, Konrad Walewski, played to perfection the part of our host, translator and guide). I tagged along as Jeff took part in an impressive number of interviews (including a very early one for the national TV breakfast show – I watched from bed in the hotel, natch), which demonstrates a lot of love for Ambergris over there.
Konrad also invited me, in my role as Nova Scotia editor and upcoming F&SF.pl author, to be on a panel in a large bookstore talking about new trends in fiction. I hope I contributed something of use to what turned into great discussion between Konrad, Jeff, F&SF’s editor-in-chief Pawel Matuszek and Jeff’s translator, Robert Walis. I certainly found it interesting to listen to, and the audience were still awake enough at the end to ask some pretty switched-on questions.
We also found time to pander to the touristic impulse, for which I thank the indulgence of our hosts, with a walking tour round the atmospheric old town on a sunny Sunday morning, and a historically informed turn around the anachronistically massive Palace of Culture and Science once our panel had finished.
But the best of the weekend? That was the people we met. Jeff had a signing arranged at local fandom hang-out, Paradox Café on Saturday afternoon. It’s a funky little place, packed with books and board games, comfy chairs and a well stocked bar. If you didn’t know what kind of place you’d tumbled into the large hand-drawn map of an alternative Earth that dominates one wall would give you a big clue. The turn out for Jeff’s signing was enthusiastic, but when we returned to the Paradox after dinner it was packed full with such warm, friendly, well informed and interesting people that I could have stayed there all night.
I actually remember more names than I expected to, but I don’t want to offend anyone by listing some and leaving others out, so if you were there and you came over and said hi, I want you to know that you’re all wonderful people, and if you want hook up on facebook or twitter or something, I’d love to keep in contact.