This week’s post is a little later than usual, as I came back from the con with a sore throat and headache, but I seem to have it under control now…
Illustrious was the 62nd Eastercon but my first. I’ve previously attended much smaller conventions, so I wasn’t sure what to expect out of this venerable institution, and I have to confess that overall I was a bit disappointed. Perhaps part of it was that the theme (military SF) wasn’t of interest to me, but mostly it felt like a small convention spread out over a large hotel complex, rather than a big convention. The few panels I went to were poorly attended, with only the Doctor Who showing (predictably) having the kind of atmosphere one expects from a major event. The hotel bar was also extortionately expensive; I live in Cambridge, which is not cheap, but even I find eight quid a bit steep for a glass of wine!
That said, I had a fantastic time, albeit mostly doing things that weren’t on the official programme. On Friday afternoon I had a look round the dealers’ room and a cider with friends from Absolute Write, then in the evening I met up with Marco, Lee and Mike from Angry Robot and a bunch of their authors, including Dan Abnett, Lauren Beukes, Aliette de Bodard and Lavie Tidhar. On Saturday, fellow new signee Adam Christopher and I tagged along to the Angry Robot signing in Waterstones, where I also finally met my agent, the very lovely John Berlyne of Zeno. The signing was a rather low-key affair, but given that it was a sunny bank holiday Saturday, it was hardly surprising that the population of Birmingham were away stoking their barbies instead of buying books.
The highlights of the convention programme for me were the BSFA awards, in which Aliette won the Short Fiction award for her story “The Shipmaker” and Joey Hifi won the art award for his cover of “Zoo City” by Lauren Beukes, and of course the Doctor Who opening episode “The Impossible Astronaut”, screened in front of hundreds of excited SF fans (free jellybabies FTW!).
I spent the rest of Saturday evening in the bar with Adam plus Louise Morgan and Ro Smith of Genre For Japan – since the price of drinks was so exorbitant, we got high on a very silly game of Consequences* that had Adam laughing so hard at one point, he couldn’t speak for several minutes!
Having perfected our modus operandi, Louise and I spent practically all of Sunday in the bar, hanging out with various new and old friends including Adrian Faulkner, Andrew Reid, Amanda Rutter of Floor-to-Ceiling Books, Gav Reads, and Tom Pollock and Helen Callaghan of The T-Party writers group. There was a brief interruption to attend the first part of the Admiralty Ball and the Hugo nominations, before returning to the bar for more drinks and seriously silly conversation.
There was a surfeit of ladies for the first dance of the ball, so true to my books’ cross-dressing themes I offered to be a “gentleman” (I was wearing black jeans and a white pintuck shirt) – which would have worked a lot better if my lady partner hadn’t been a good six inches taller than me! Still, it was good fun, and the only dancing I managed all weekend.
The Admiralty Ball also featured an array of impressive costumes, from gorgeous Regency outfits worthy of a Jane Austen production, to homemade high-tech uniforms (apparently it helps to have a dad who’s an engineer…).
By Monday morning I was exhausted, so there was just time for a last mooch around the dealers’ room before going home. The worst thing about conventions is saying goodbye to all the wonderful new friends I’ve made, but there’s the consolation that I’ll see them again in a few months. As for Eastercon itself, I’ll definitely be back next year, if only because my book will be out by then and I’ll be the one doing the signings
* We each agreed to post a sample of our Consequences stories, so here’s the one I ended up with:
Being made of beaten gold, Brandon wept for the life he was condemned to lead. An eternity of servitude at the foot of the fiery mountain, his only friend a small songless bird.
‘This is the worst quest so far,’ he grumbled to the little bird.
‘You call this a quest?’ The little bird scraped the mud from his feathers and looked around the desolate wasteland. ‘You haven’t even got a drunk monk in your party! What gives?’
‘Listen, sugarlips,’ he said, ‘I don’t know what it’s like where you come from, but this is how we conduct our business round these parts.’
She shrugged, and handed over the gun and the emerald necklace.
The man shook his head. ‘No way, lady,’ he said. ‘That’s not the necklace you stole from the princess.’
‘This diamond is a fake!’
‘I know,’ he said, leaping into the biplane, his eyes fixed on the horizon.
And this was one of the more coherent ones…