Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Title: Worldcon - Interaction 2005
Detail: 4th-8th August 2005, SECC/Moat House, Glasgow
Friday 5th August 2005.
The reason that Interaction as going to work with me getting a weekend ticket was that my office closes at 1pm on a Friday. If things had been running 100% smoothly then I would have gone straight from work. But of course, having decided at the last minute that I was going, meant that I was pretty disorganised. Of course the fact that several people were going on holiday that day, and were looking for me to stay on late to cover some stuff, rather made me all the more disorganised.
So it was more like 2pm by the time I got home, followed by a manic attempt to have lunch, locate the books I was planning to take to get signed for each day, get hold of my MD recorder plus microphone and borrow a digital camera for the rest of the weekend. All of which meant that it was after three by the time I arrived at the SECC. Arriving at the SECC I went straight to the information desk to see what my chances were for getting signed up to that afternoon’s Kaffeeklatsch. Much to my surprise and by sheer fluke I was able to get signed up for coffee with Ian McDonald, thanks to a couple of cancellations; I didn’t even see the lists for any of the other Kaffeeklatschs I was interested in, though the fact that a couple I was interested in were for cancelled guests probably explains that.
Friday 15:30 Autographing – Robert Silverberg, Esther Friesner & Tricia Sullivan
Given the way time was going this autographing session was the first item on my rough itinerary for Friday that I could make. Still at that finding your bearings now that everything is open stage, so managed to find a large queue for signing, though that turned out to be Tolkien related. Instead the signing I was after was down the other end of the SECC in the dealer’s hall. There I found only two people ready to sign instead of the listed three.
I have read two novels by Tricia Sullivan, Maul and Dreaming In Smoke, and I had decided that I would buy her latest novel Double Vision from one of the stalls and get that signed. However the person that was missing from this signing session was Sullivan. Which knocked a couple of events from my itinerary – like the reading by Sullivan and the Kaffeeklatsch. Though at least I managed to pick up a couple of her older, and I believe out of print, novels for a good price over the course of the weekend.
Of the remaining two, that left Robert Silverberg for me. During my teens I read dozens of novels by Silverberg, who has been in the industry for something like 4 or 5 decades now. So he was one of the first real science fiction writers that I had read. I decided to take along the first volume in the series of short story collections that he has published in recent years, and got him to sign that.
Friday 16:00 Kathleen Ann Goonan Reading
Looking through the official guide, I realised that I had some how missed Kathleen Ann Goonan from my scheduling, so was pleased to spot that she was doing a reading and that I had spotted it just in time. I’ve read the four novels Goonan has had published in the UK, though I was hoping to get a chance to pick up the third novel of four which hadn’t been printed here (as far as I am aware). However after finding the room the reading was to take place in, it became clear that Goonan was to join Sullivan and be my second cancellation of the weekend.
Friday 16:30 Paul McAuley Reading
After killing a little time with the non-reading by KAG, I was back to the same room for 16:30, and a reading by the British science fiction writer Paul McAuley, and one of the hosts for this year’s Hugo Awards. The Fyne room is a smaller venue than the boardroom, which I had been in the night before. But then it was surprising for an event like this that there were not more people there to hear McAuley read.
He started by reading from a short story called Meat, which was published in Nature magazines second Science Fiction story issue – and is apparently available online with a number of other stories. Followed by a couple of extracts from his new novel, Mind’s Eye, copies of which were available in hard back from the dealer’s hall. Sound like it is going to be something of a thriller, lots of shadowy organisations and secret service types, set between London and Iraq.
Friday 17:00 Ian McDonald Kaffeeklatsch
Having fluked a place on the Kaffeeklatsch with Ian McDonald, I wasn’t actually sure what to expect. In the hall that held the information desk, future con bids, assorted costume/displays, was a coffee bar – at the back of which were a handful of cordoned off tables. Each table for a guest and 9 fans to sit down, have coffee and chat. Most of us had sat down at the table before McDonald arrived, and had come to the conclusion that none of us had done one of these before. Ian and Enid arrived with a handful of fans from Belfast, and announced that he had never done one of these before either.
I guess Kaffeeklatschs on the whole are intended to be pretty freeform and casual affairs. Sat as a group with Ian McDonald for an hour, we were certainly pretty casual about the whole thing. We all sat with drinks and had a rambling chat – covering McDonald’s Hugo nominated novel River Of Gods and his trip to India to research the novel. How his latest novel is going to be about Brazil, and how much harder it is to research Brazil than India – as far as South America goes thee are dozens of books about Cuba, but not nearly s many about Brazil, despite its size. Then we talked about the theory of how writers become writers after moving as children, and how he moved from England to Northern Ireland as a child, and how the whole environment of Northern Ireland has affected his writing. To a degree this extended into the current troubles in London, and the current state of Britain on the whole.
The whole thing was a little bizarre, but Ian McDonald is a fun and easygoing guy, so the whole session was pretty relaxed.
Friday 18:00 Race, Migration and Refugees
This panel had just started when I arrived, so I kind of missed the introductions, going by what was said through the course of the conversation the panel was moderated by Fiona Avery – who seems to have written a good number of comics and tv-tie in work, with her first novel being published this year. Sat to the right of her was Elizabeth Wein, who has written a handful of young adult novels. Then to the left of Avery was Karin Lowachee, who has written three novels. For the most part, I wasn’t too aware of who these three women were. Unfortunately the fourth woman on the panel was supposed to be Kathleen Ann Goonan, who we had already established was not present. The rest of the panel was made up by Jon Courtenay Grimwood, who has just published his eighth novel, and the late arriving Ian McDonald, who I had managed to overtake on the way there.
The panel started by giving us some idea of who the people were, and how their experiences had shaped their writing. Fiona Avery has spent time working in Egypt and is a Cultural Anthropologist. Elizabeth Wein has lived in England, Jamaica, America, and is now in Scotland. Karin Lowachee was born in South America and now lives in Canada. Ian McDonald moved from England to Northern Island, where he lives now. Jon Courtenay Grimwood was born to a Service family, moving about Europe and the Far East as a child.
Major topics in this discussion revolved around reasons for people migrating, how they become refugees. The obvious suggestions that were come up with were things like religion, war and money. The rise of one religion causing the flow of another. The differences between Western and Eastern Europe and the skills gaps versus the money that is available.
Grimwood and McDonald both talked about how they immersed themselves in a culture to be able to write about that culture – listening to that culture’s music, cooking and eating the food. While Avery talked about buying a playstation so she could connect to a certain generation. The topic spread to other research methods – the use of journals, the availability of books, and just generally how much tools like the internet have made life as a writer so much easier.
The discussion moved on to language, from researching authentic language, to how the form of a language can affect dialogue and narrative. McDonald explained how Irish doesn’t have words for “yes” or “no”, which can make for circular conversations. Wein agreed with McDonald, having experienced a similar phenomena while living in Ethiopia. The panel headed towards a conclusion with some comments about puns and words games and how they fit into language.
Friday 19:00 Pro-Am Technobabble
Like “I’m sorry I Haven’t Any SFing Clue” this was a panel quiz game with an emphasis on humour. Split into two teams, the professionals (SF writers) and amateurs (SF reviewers/fans). The line up listed at various points for the teams had changed at least once before the start of the event. In the end the only people I really recognised were Charles Stross and Simon Bisson. Like the previous night, this event had science fiction sound effects for the teams to guess. There was also a steady stream of people leaving throughout, and I have to admit that eventually I got bored and left as well. I may be a science fiction fan, but I think that was for the way more serious Fan.
Friday 20:00 Parties
This is where I failed the intelligence test, or at least the “have you been paying enough attention” test. For some reason I got it into my head that the parties were in the Moat House hotel. Without a real idea of what the parties involved I thought I had better grab something to eat. So I got one of the over priced bottom of the barrel toasted sandwich doodaas that the SECC catering were selling. Which was over priced and bottom of the barrel. I then wandered around trying to find the parties. Till something in the back of my head said “the parties are in the Hilton stupid!”. And the back of my head was right, the parties were in the Hilton and I was stupid. Which I’ve I’d realised sooner I could actually have just gone into town and gotten something proper to eat.
Being at the convention by myself made things a little awkward at times. People were easy enough to talk to while waiting to get something signed or while sitting in the audience of a panel. But I found the parties a little more difficult than that. Perhaps turning up about 8 when things were still kicking off wasn’t a great idea. Still I managed to wander around from room to room for a good few hours. I drank fizzy drinks with the Friendly Norwegians. I caught the presentation about Fantastic Queensland, the Australian equivalent of the Clarion writer’s workshops, and the raffle that they held. I ate Norwegian pancakes. And hot dogs from the Chicago 2008 bid. I ate Norwegian sweets and chocolate. And a variety of Japanese crackers and snacks from the LACon IV & Nippon 2007 party. Eventually I became tired, I’d still been at work all week, and was planning to make an early start the next morning to make the most of the rest of the weekend.
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