So the last post left things with me getting an early night on Saturday. Man, that seems like a lifetime ago! I’m sitting in my hotel room now, listening to the Vangelis Blade Runner soundtrack to ease my aching brain, jotting down a few thoughts about the rest of the Con, which is now sadly over. I’ll actually post this tomorrow I expect, when I get some wifi, but I’m writing it while still blurry with the last day of the Con, so excuse any gibberish. And yes, Worldon, Aussiecon 4, is over. I’m both distraught and relieved.
Sunday I didn’t have too much to do. I had a lie-in and took my time getting back into things, but got there in time for Kim Stanley Robinson’s talk entitled Climate change & utopia. That talk made my brain bend. The man is such a good speaker, able to convey massive ideas with such a relaxed delivery. He talked about how climate change doesn’t have to be a disaster, and that utopia is still possible, if we start NOW. He talked a lot about how our Palaeolithic brain enjoys the simple things and that we actually take a holiday out in nature to escape our carbon expensive modern lifestyle. Pretty valid point the man makes. I couldn’t begin to make sense of his piece at this stage, in this space – hopefully someone will transcribe it or post a recording. Anyone?
Following that I had to hustle over to my last panel of the Con. And a truly gibbering fanboy moment for me. I had the job of moderating this panel about novellas and whether or not they’re the perfect length for SF. On the panel were Peter M Ball, scribe of the highly overachieving novella Horn from Twelfth Planet Press, Keith Stevenson, head of Coeur De Lion that produced the X6 novella anthology (that I’ve talked about a lot here before) and Robert Silverberg. ROBERT SILVERBERG! If you don’t know who that is, go and check it out and then come back. We’ll wait… Here, I’ll help.
You see. What a living legend. It was an absolute honour to moderate this panel and ask the questions and try to keep the thing on track. It was fascinating and brilliant to hear Robert talk about stuff, particularly as the novella is his preferred length of writing. Although I did feel bad at one point – there was a lot of talk about how novellas are hard to sell, being too long for short story markets and too short for novel markets, but that small press and ebooks were making them a lot more viable again. Robert mentioned the changing world and that he’d signed his first Kindle at this con. I mentioned how someone had asked me not long ago about when we would stop referring to books and ebooks and start referring to books and p-books. There was a moment’s pause while that sank in and then Robert Silverberg gave the most plaintive groan that I felt the universe shift slightly on its axis. Poor man!
Incidentally, if anyone that was there took a photo of this panel or knows someone that did, I’d love a copy. Please spread the word around. In fact, any photos of any panels I was on or the workshop or reading that I did would be great. I don’t have many photos from this con at all.
EDIT – The awesome Peter M Ball managed to get me a shot of the panel from a Facebook friend of his, so here it is:
After that I went to a reading with Chuck McKenzie and Robert Hood. This was excellent fun, with Chuck giving an awesome reading of a comedy Cthulhu yarn, the name of which my addled brain can’t recall, and Rob reading his story, Zombie Au Gratin. Hilarious fun.
After that was lunch, then my final official engagement of the Con – a reading session that I shared with New Zealand author Helen Lowe. She read from her dark fantasy novel, The Heir Of Night, which sounds very good indeed. Then I read a couple of passages from MageSign, which seemed to go down quite well. Most of the people there were Helen Lowe fans, so I hope I didn’t disturb them too much.
Next on the agenda was one of the absolute highlights of the Con for me. A delivery of the Norma Hemming play, The Matriarchy Of Renok. It was an abridged version, read radio play style by people in silly hats, including Jetse De Vries as the male protagonist, Lewis Morley as the narrator and Cat Sparks, in the role she was born for, the Matriarch Of Renok – “Fetch the whips!” Forgive me for not listing the rest of the cast, all of whom were awesome. A bloody funny event, and one I’m glad I didn’t miss. It would be too hard to explain what this was all about exactly – suffice to say it was a play ably abridged to 45 minutes by Sean McMullen, originally written in 1958, about a planet ruled by women. Do a search on The Matriarchy Of Renok and you’ll learn a lot. And you’ll see why it was so funny in this context.
Then it was time to get all schmoozy and glittery. The Hugos. I’ve been gaga about the Hugos since I was a kid. A book with “Hugo Award Winner” on it always caught my attention. That rocket trophy always made me excited. I was lucky enough to go to the Orbit pre-Hugos reception party and then got seats in the third row at the awards event itself. I was beside myself. In our row were China Mieville, Robert Silverberg and George R R Martin. In front of me were Kim Stanley Robinson and Shaun Tan. I can’t believe how lucky I was to be surrounded by such incredible talent, giants all, at such a prestigious event. The awards ceremony was great, with many well deserved winners. A quick search on 2010 Hugo Awards will give you those. Also, be sure to check out the awesome Aussiecon Hugo trophy base by the equally awesome Nick Stathopoulos.
One Hugo win I will mention is that of Peter Watts. You may remember me putting the call out that Cat Sparks was trying to raise money to get Peter here from Canada to attend the Worldcon. The Australian writing community and friends managed to raise that money and I’ve been able to hang out with Peter a bit since he arrived last Monday and can honestly say that he’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. If you think you’ve heard the name before, you probably have. If not for his work, then for his unfortunate experience at the US border earlier this year. Once again, a quick search should reveal all. He was nominated for his novelette, The Island, and he won. He said himself that this turned one of the worst years of his life into the best. He was so convinced that he wouldn’t win that he started applauding the winner before realising it was his own name that had been announced. Then he was completely embarrassed because he hadn’t bothered to dress up and had to receive the award wearing jeans and a t-shirt that said, Welcome Squid Overlords. I can’t think of anything more perfect, to be honest. Even better, I got to hold his Hugo and have my photo taken with it.
This is going on the fridge at home as my motivational picture to keep me writing and keep the Grudge Monkey at bay. One day I won’t have to put my finger over Peter’s name, as I’ll be holding my own. I’m practicing my winner’s expression too. Hey, fuck it, aim high, that’s what I say. I couldn’t be happier for Peter. You can read his thoughts about the whole trip to Aus, the con and his win here.
The post-Hugos drinks at the Hilton bar was a hell of a lot of fun, but I’m afraid that’s in the category of “What happens at Worldcon, stays at Worldcon.”
And that brings us to Monday, the last day. I had no official engagements and totally cruised today. I wandered about with friends, catching up with as many people as possible. Then I attended a panel called The eternal border, which was all about whether or not there are taboos in dark fantasy. It was a fascinating talk with Deborah Biancotti, Richard Harland, Catherynne M Valente and Jason Nahrung. I wish it could have gone for longer, as it was great to listen to these people talk about a subject very relevant to my own writing. It’s not a panel I can easily sum up here. There are many taboos still lurking, it seems, but it’s largely agreed that there shouldn’t be. Lots of varying example were given. I think I might actually work up my thoughts of this panel into a separate post on the subject in the next few days if I can.
After that I went to Vampire vs Zombie smackdown. In defence of the vampires were Narelle M Harris, Foz Meadows and George R R Martin. On the side of zombies were Scott Edelman, Felicity Dowker and Australia’s foremost zombie expert, Chuck McKenzie. A most entertaining panel about which is best with the basic consensus being that vampires are cooler, but zombies would win the war between the two. George Martin was particularly funny in this panel and all the panellists did a very entertaining job.
Then it was the closing ceremony. A nice little wrap up with a perfectly laid back and half-arsed finish where it just kind of ended and everyone wandered off. Brilliant.
And that was Worldcon.
I went to the bar afterwards, caught up with friends again, and had a last dinner in Melbourne in excellent writerly and editorish company.
Far and away the real highlight of this con, as with every con, was meeting people in our vibrant genre community. Not only seeing old and dear friends again and getting to hang out with them, but meeting people in person for the first time that I know very well from online interaction, and meeting new people for the first time. As well as all that, mingling with such luminary masters in the field that I can only hope to emulate one day. It’s always so inspirational to be at these things among such wonderful and talented people. And I still didn’t see everyone I’d hoped to or enough of some people I did catch up with. But that always happens at cons too.
What a tremendous, fun, enlivening, inspirational and fucking exhausting five days it’s been. It feels like both five minutes and five months. I can’t wait to get home and rest. I also can’t wait for the next one. Which, incidentally, will be Swancon in Perth next year, which is also Australia’s 50th national convention. Bring it on!