August 14th, 2005



I don't really plan on doing a full report for Worldcon, so here are some snippets.

Arrived Thursday morning, and immediately had room trouble. After feeling all virtuous for scouting out Cairncross the previous week, it transpired that they'd screwed our booking. They had us arriving on Thursday, just had neglected to allocate us a room until Friday. Grr. K got ready to explode, but they were quite open about it being their fault, and apologised that we'd have to switch rooms the next day. Oh well. I was happy that we had a room. K was still wound up after the catastrophe that is the Glasgow signposting system.

Over to the SECC to register. K got a ribbon. I sulked. I was being a non-volunteer, so didn't get anything fancy on my badge. Boo.

Saw various people we know: Smurf, Steve R, Judith, Eddie, etc.

Was going to go to the "Guide to the Convention" panel, but didn't manage it, and then sat on the Redemption Desk, so the first panel I got to was gaspode's "Two cultures" panel. rozk was on it too, and made some interesting points at the start about the Beeb, but didn't get a chance to make any more, because no-one got a change to get more than a sentence out before gaspode dived in. It's entertaining to watch, and can indeed be a programme item in itself, but I was curious what the other panellists had to say. (This isn't a dig at gaspode, btw, as I said later. I blame the moderator, who needed to be much stronger).

Followed that panel by one with steverogerson, on whether lesbianism is progressive in Buffy, Hex and Xena, which was okay, but not nearly so entertaining. I was somewhat annoyed by the comment that one should not make assumptions: making assumptions is fine, as long as you're aware that that's what they are. Still..

I think I did another stint on the desk after that, and then (K, gaspode, fifitrix and altariel) nattering in the concourse for a while, before gaspode showed us the cunning tunnel over to the Moat House where the real ale bar was. We didn't stay there too long, though; there was flagging going on, so (I think) we got a taxi back to Cairncross. I'd been expecting K to want to go to the Ceilidh, but that didn't happen.

Friday was our first visit to the breakfast club, then the Blake's 7 panel, with steverogerson, watervole and Ben Jeapes. Ben's a B7 fan? Coo. A plan was hatched to get him signed up for Redemption...

The desk wasn't open at this point. We thought: anyone interested in joining Redemption'll probably be at the panel, so what the hell...

The "Promoting New Writers" panel had editors from Del Ray and Interzone, among others, and all pretty much said the same thing: We've got no budget for promotion, so if you're a new writer, it's all up to you. Have a website and a blog and make sure you answer your readers' emails - anything to make it seem more personal, so they'll be more inclined to read your stuff and promote you, for you, for free.

I was on the desk at midday, then went along to the "mandolin workshop" given by Blind Lemming Chiffon. Alas, it wasn't a workshop - it was him sitting in a tiny room saying, "you can do this" (plays something) "or this" (plays something else), "or make it more interesting like this" (plays something different). So, non-educational, and, to me, it looked like he was fumbling things a lot.

A quick run around the art show (very nice, although very similar to the Eastercon ones), then into the Argyll with a pint for the "between the doctor whos" panel, which was supposed to have more people on it, but was just watervole and steverogerson. An interesting panel, with lots of comments, and rumours of what the Beeb are commissioning at the moment. I put forward my assertion that Dr Who does not open up the doors for more sf; it opens the doors for good sf - that's the critical point, and the reason why Last Train, Invasion Earth, etc. all didn't have the same effect.

I spent much of the next hour wandering around trying to find smurf, since he was supposed to be helping with a swordfighting demo that was due to start soon, and I was expecting to help too. I'd seen him on Thursday as we arrived, and not since. But luckily, I bumped into Mark Hillyard in the concourse. We went over to the Green Room, and nattered.

Rather obviously, they weren't expecting/wanting any help with the actual demo, about which I can hardly complain (I'm an unknown quantity as far as they're concerned), but I had fliers, which got me a free drink. :-)

The demo went well, even though I don't agree with Mark's choice of material, and the room was packed. I've got a photo somewhere...A big scrabble for fondling the weapons afterwards, and then we had to clear the room to let others in, so I nattered to some folks from a Mass. WMA group until it was time for the "Writing for Comics" panel. Which was okay, but I;m not sure how much I got out of it. Dan Abnett talked about what the various people in the team did, distinguishing between DC and Marvel approaches (writer scripts the panels for the artists including dialogue and action, vs writer just gives the basic story, then adjusts the dialogue to match what the artist produces).

It was interesting to see Dan looking through someone's work afterwards - he spent quite a while talking to them about what worked and what didn't, and how that would affect a pitch. Nice to see this kind of effort being made.

Another stint on the desk, after which I packed up to head over to the Hilton for the Redemption party. This was my only trip to the Hilton, and it took me a while to find my way in, and then to the party rooms. Sigh. Mark Young, Eddie and Steve R were setting up. Where were the rest of the committee? All watching the play, apparently. (although this generally wasn't the case. Food was being obtained instead.)

The party went very well, I thought. Steve R's mixer game managed to kick things off a bit, since a few people were actually giving it a go. Eddie spent the entire time serving beer, and I spent about three quarters of the time doing the same. Steve R was at the membership desk, although it wasn't until he actually left to go to the loo that someone actually joined. :-) Chris was on door duty, ensuring that the room wasn't raided, but generally making jovial welcomes, and Judith was mingling, playing twister, etc. I was very pleased, since I'd never been to a Worldcon, and expected that there'd be a much higher expectation of entertainment than we could provide. I was expecting a disaster, but it was great. So well done to those who organised it, and also to those who funded it; you know who you are.

Finally shared a taxi back with K, altariel1 and fifitrix.
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    Housemartins - Five get over excited

Worldcon (Saturday)

I was on the reg desk for the opening session, and katlinel was off for the belly-dancing, but after that, it was the "Tie-In Books" panel, which was great. karentraviss, jmswallow, Keith DeCandido Elizabeth Hand and others being very entertaining at the same time as being down-to-earth, practical and wise. Keith also reminded me somewhat of a certain lonemagpie, which was kind of weird...

The "Disseminating filk" panel was interesting, since there are filk archives now, plus mutterings about the digital age, etc. But of course, this is all about one's original filk, which first involves being able to write songs...

Food, then I'm not sure: perhaps this was when I was listening to Dan Abnett on comics. Maybe.

But anyway, I followed it with a filk concert, listening in: Kathleen Sloan, Lawrence Dean and Rita the Bardling. I thought Kathleen was great. She looked a little like Anne Robinson's daughter(!), but good performances and entertaining songs. Less grabbed with either of the others, but that was choice of material, I think: somewhat downbeat (or dreary, even) for my taste, although Lawrence did have a song that required audience members to have their mobile phones ringing...

No idea what happened for a couple of hours, but eventually Fi and I got to the masquerade. Fi, being a staff member, was entitled to sit in the central front area. Me not being a staff person, I wasn't, but Fi and M, who was on steward duty, decided that Redemption work counted, and insisted I siddown and shaddup.

The masquerade was good, with between 25 and 30 entries. Some very funny ones (Pratchett, death, the sheep, etc.) some okay ones, and some poor ones. And by poor I mean: naff, embarrassing dialogue/actions which do nothing to enhance the costume. Okay, so it's marked on the costume and not presentation, but I hate this aspect of masquerades. I'd much prefer "walk on, do a twirl, get off" if all you're showing is the costume.

I couldn't believe that the Iron Costumer thing was really supposed to run for 45 minutes, too. When it became clear that it was, I did a runner, and went to sit in one of the filk rooms.

This turned out to be a good plan: Three Weird Sisters were there, with their back-up sister Mary, who is just plain astounding. Some very cool jazz numbers on a keyboard, with proper presentation too. And TWS were great, too: guitar, bass, harp, and lovely voices/songs. There were numerous other filkers there, but they were the ones I remembered.

Worldcon (Sunday)

Reg desk, first thing, but steverogerson was covering it, so I wandered around the art show again. I dropped in on the "Children's Books We Miss" panel, which had Pterry on it. It was okay, but not startling. Then I went to the "Genre-Killing Ideas" panel. Charlie Stross' example: working mobile phones complete kill the slasher-in-the-woods scenario. Charlie was a good speaker, with a lovely voice that draws you in. Al Reynolds must have had a good night, because he barely said a word throughout the panel.

Then another panel in quick successio: Subverted Elves. This had been moved from its scheduled small room to the aircraft hanger that was Hall-5. Pterry and others talking a lot about where some of their weird ideas come from, but it didn't really go into detail about what happens when you don't follow fantasy cliches. Anyway, I was just waiting for someone to say, "Read Tough Guide to Fantasyland, then we could all leave and go to our net panel.

Or eat, in my case. Then I trogged over to the Armadillo to one of the small, strange rooms there, to watch Paul Cornell and a few others talking about Script Writing. Some nice points made, and I was amused to see that some people were taking very detailed notes.

Coincidentally, there was another panel that followed immediately afterwards, on pitching for TV. Naturally, it was in another room. Liz H was asking Ben where it was, so I said, "Orkney", and headed over. The "Improving Your Writing" panel that was already going on in there was running on a lot, and the room was very full (it's a very small room), but eventually it emptied out, and went in. And waited for the panel. Liz H and I nattered for a bit, before DaiseeChain sent me over to the gopher hole to find out where the panellist (singular) had got to. "Why should we know?" they said, reasonably enough, and sent me to Programme Ops. "Oh, him," P.O. said. "Didn't he cancel?" Apparently so.

So that got my exercise for the day. There were a few of us in the room at the time, so what the hell, we had a panel anyway. There was one bloke there whose approach seemed to be, "TV companies always take your ideas off you and you lose control, so I've formed my own production company." He was very proud of this, and quite clear that it was the way forward. "You could do that," he said in answer to just about everything, "But I've formed my own production company." Despite that, Liz H had lots of interesting and useful information to disseminate (thanks, Liz), and I found it an enjoyable session. Enough so that I skipped the Three Weird Sisters concert that had been moved to the 6pm slot.

When the conversation moved into Dr Who continuity, I felt that I couldn't offer any more, and headed off to find K. She'd skipped the bellydance party, and was heading over to the City Inn for dinner with watervole and alterial1. I foun d them (eventually), and we had a meal on the decking overlooking the Clyde, in the bright sun. Food was okay, if not spectacular.

The back to the fan bar, because Watervole had a panel. We ignored the Hugos, and sat in the bar, while I wibbled to alterial1 about some story plot lines for a while, then I headed off to the filk.

This didn't go so well. first of all, the person in charge of the filk instrument store was (I later found out) stuck in the restaurant, so we couldn't get instruments out. Then the filk circle was, well, not great. Lawrence was there, and Gwen from TWS, and Blind Lemming Chiffon. But by and large, most people in the room weren't particular good (and I include myself here). Gwen left after a while, the room was emptying out, and I'd done a couple of items, and was thinking, "Sigh, I'll get one more drink and see if it improves, then I'll go home." And heading to the bar, I passed the other filk room, where all the good people were, and were everyone else had go, to listen.

So, basically, they'd sneaked away from us crap plebs, and were having fun without having to listen to us. Well, I can understand it, but at that point I thought, "sod you, then," and just went back. I heard Lawrence talking to (I think) Andy GK before I collected the guitar: he also wanted to join the good room, but felt that he couldn't really walk out of the bad room. And he was nice enough to say that he liked the lyrics to "Nothing's Ever Different." So, ta. But the night still ended on a downer.

I was feeling a lot better on Monday, though. We had a quick breakfast and packed everything up, the drove over to the SECC in plenty of time. Wibbled around the desk for a bit, since I'd not noticed before that you couldn't take hot drinks into the programme rooms. Consequently, I only caught the end of the panel on Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle.
Good, though.

There was another "Subverting fantasy" panel after that, which sadly wasn't as good, then I was on the desk for a bit, before heading to the Future of Fandom panel. I made the point early on that the panel really needed to clearly distinguish between fans and conrunners - but frandowdsofa had just about gotten around to doing that just before I did, so it sorta lost impact. :-)

There were a couple of other good points made in there, but I'll come back to them in another post. Because, about halfway through, a siren went off, and about fifty kids came screaming in, armed with inflatable weapons and water pistols. Bloody marvellous. They repeated that twice, and on the third time, I thought: I get the point, and left.

Final panel was the "Fantasy and Folklore" panel which, for me, was too academic and wordy: each panellist would speak for a long time, as if reading a lecture. I don't object to what they were saying; I just felt that I'd seen other panellists over the weekend who managed to get their points across in a far more dynamic way.

I was amused, however, by someone in the audience who stood up and said - and I'm paraphrasing - "I have no evidence or experience or basis for comment, but I think you're wrong." Not the most compelling of arguments, then.

And that was it. End of Worldcon.

Well done to all who organised it. It was a bloody good con.