You may or may not recall, dear readers, that I was traveling to foreign English lands all last week, in order to attend Nine Worlds 2014, and LonCon3: the 2014 World Science Fiction Convention. Many were the adventures of your intrepid correspondent! Much did she travel! Far did she wander on untrodden paths…
…Well, maybe not so much with the untrodden.
Nine Worlds 2014
I arrived at Heathrow early on Sunday morning, after about 30-45 minutes’ sleep. In between the neighbours’ dog shutting up, and my alarm going off, there was not all that much time – so I don’t actually recall all that much from Sunday. I had a panel to participate in. I arm-wrestled Geoff Ryman (and won): he is a very clever tall skinny geek. I met the very smart Zen Cho, and blurrily encountered Jared Shurin and Anne C. Perry, and Jenni Hill, a lovely editor from Orbit UK. I recall having lunch with Elizabeth Bear and Alex Dally MacFarlane, and meeting Scott Lynch in passing, but I was seriously out of it.
Towards the evening, the amazing writer and historian and all-around lovely person Kari Sperring and her man Phil bore me off to Cambridge, where I got to meet their cats, among them a very affectionate half-grown catling who wanted All The Attention.
I am immensely grateful to Kari and Phil for their impeccable and delightful hospitality – and for introducing me to young Michelle Yeoh in Hong Kong action movies. They are truly wonderful people.
Some tourism (and bookshop tourism) happened on Monday, when I received a whirlwind tour of Cambridge and environs, including the famous Soup Pub (whose real name I cannot now remember). On Tuesday D. of Intellectus Speculativus and their partner Zoe trained down to Cambridge and I spent the day with them, doing tourist stuff like looking at buildings:
And inside museums:
…where we agreed that it was sometimes nice to be able to look at stuff that had nothing to do with any of our subject areas (all Classicists/ancient historians, us) and just admire it as a collection of pretty objects. (The museum did try to educate us about the objects in the collection, but we were having none of it. Bad historians were bad on Tuesday.)
And repaired to a pub called the Maypole, where many beers were on offer and I sampled only one.
Wednesday contained a lot of wibbling on my part and attempts to convince myself that LonCon3 would not actually be terrifying.
And then Thursday was con-going. Were it not for the amazing Kari and the amazing Phil, I doubt I would have made it to and across London: the Tube attempted to kill me, and proved rather confusing to hideously apprehensive me. But I survived the journey in time to check in to the tiny green-coloured Ibis (the middle grade of Ibis, I understand) near Customs House DLR station, and to make it to the convention centre in time to register for panels.
I arrived sometime before 1130. The queue was immense. Props to the volunteers (especially to Oscar and Katherine [sp?]) who were keeping things moving, and who, as it approached 1230, took me out of the line down to registration proper so I could get badged up for my 1330 panel.
I did not get my Hugo nominee stuff at this point in time! But I went back for it the following morning.
The 1330 panel was titled “The Changing Face of the Urban Fantastic,” and had a 1330-1500 timeslot. It was my first ever Worldcon panel, and my first ever gig as moderator. I had done no prep, but with Sophia McDougall, Paul Cornell, Robin Hobb, and Freda Warrington as panellists, I didn’t have to do much work at all. At 1345 approximately, the skies opened and we had a very dramatic thunder and lightning storm as our accompaniment: dramatic soundtrack!
I do not actually at this remove remember what was discussed on the panel, only that I had a lovely chat with Sophia (and Liesel Schwarz and Laura Lam and maybe some other people) in the green room after the panel ended, before I went to meet Kate Elliott and Mahvesh Murad, whom I’d arranged to meet before the con for coffee/drinks/chattings at 1600. We repaired to the Aloft bar and talked endlessly for two hours – they are lovely smart people, both an utter delight to have conversation with – before I had to leave to meet some people from Tor.com for dinner.
Irene Gallo and Carl Engle-Laird are just as lovely in person as they are on the internet. So is Justin Landon, who is bizarrely tall and broad of shoulder – people are so much more three-dimensional in person than they are on the internet, it’s quite weird. Then I ran into Fran Wilde and some of her people after dinner, and later on found myself beside the Cool People Table in the fan area, where I met Max Gladstone, Django Wexler, Ann Leckie, Roz Kaveney, Charlie Stross, and Tom Pollock, among others. They are all startlingly lovely people – and Tom, at least, stands out in a crowd.
At some point, I made it back to the Ibis, and there I met my roommate-for-the-con, the utterly amazing Aishwarya Subramanian, for the very first time – and we talked a lot before finally deciding we’d better sleep.
In the morning, we were to discover an unusual feature of our hotel…