Yesterday was my heavy panel day, in that I was on one with , Ian McLeod and James Lovegrove at 10 am on “The Breakup of Britain”, and then moderating another with a more European theme at 11 with Harry Turtledove, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Keith Brooke and Patrick Gyger. The first one was fairly full; the second, in a much bigger hall with over 200 seats, was completely packed. I did wonder how many were there just to hear Harry Turtledove and Jon Courtenay Grimwood, but the audiences in both cases seemed to appreciate my own contributions. In fact there was an interesting overlap of themes between the two.
Then I actually sat in on my first serious discussion panel of sf, ‘s “Not the Hugo Awards” discussion, with the panellists being four well-known editors. There were significant disagreements about what ought to win, but a surprising consensus on what will win – Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susannah Clarke; “Winterfair Gifts”, by Lois McMaster Bujold; “The Faery Handbag”, by Kelly Link; and “The Best Christmas Ever”, by James Patrick Kelly. We shall see this evening; I’ve already made my own views sufficiently well known. I did at least meet (howver briefly) Chance, which means the only lj person I am still on the lookout for is .
Lunch followed, with Chris Beckett again, and then I had a look around the art show, enjoying it so much (see my post yesterday about the Very Hungry Cthulhu) that I missed getting into ‘s presentation on 3-D images of Mars. Everyone who went said it was fantastic, and I should have anticipated the crowds. I looked in on the Eurocon business meeting and duly voted for ‘s bid for Ireland in 2007, but as it turned out the Danes won.
However, rather than hang around for the result I headed over to the Moat House Bar, where I encountered and a couple of other Scottish fans (one being Michael Ross) who’d been to both my morning panels, and wanted to continue the discussion while plying me with real ale, which almost made up for missing Mars. Eventually we bestirred ourselve to go to David A Hardy’s video presentation cutting between 1950’s space movies and the 1960’s footage of the real thing. I will never get tired of watching the first moon landing – it always brings a tear to my eye – but it was very interesting to see the extent to which the 1950s film-makers had foreshadowed the way we think about it. (Apart from the very silly scene from Destination Moon where we saw the newly landed astronauts trying to call New York.)
I got a bit tired of it after a while though and nipped across the corridor to a showing of “Father’s Day”, with Paul Cornell answering questions from the audience about it; great fun but soon over. Then bumped into and ended up going for a decent Chinese dinner with him, (we whose usernames are only three letters should stick together!), Andrew Butler and Elizabeth Wein. Then on to the party which was great fun; and I quit while I was ahead, having slept badly the first couple of nights, came back and got nine hours more or less uninterrupted.
Had a good chat with my room-mate, Alaskan author David Marusek over breakfast. The experience of Worldcon for me as a fan seems so very different from what a full-time writer is here for in terms of personal professional development. Then got here, and heard the sad news about Robin Cook.
Next was my heavy panel, “Is the American Empire on the Verge of Collapse”, with three acknowledged lefites (me, Ken McLeod, and here. The Azerbaijan elections are the first week of November. Go, sign up! (Though I’ll have to find out the details about Sweden in the next few days.)
After that I sat in on a second serious sf panel, part of the academic track, Tania Scott on Lord Dunsany, Mike Cosgrave on Home Rule and the Unionist mistakes of the late 19th century, and Michael Johnson on C.S. Lewis – a nice little trinity of Irish themed papers, all brief but thought-provoking.
Then I decided to come and update my livejournal, at no doubt huge expense in the business centre. Am seeing an old friend from Belfast for lunch and will be back in the afternoon.