“An experience not to be missed. But not to be repeated.”
The Ibis London ExCel Docklands Hotel is a budget hotel. It is apparently the middle grade of Ibis: the Ibis “Budget” is even less fancy, while the Ibis “Styles” is slightly less compact. Aisha and I discovered, upon investigating, that the shower of our Ibis was inhumanly small. (On Sunday night Aisha made a video of tiny shower: somewhere PROOF EXISTS of its tiny dimensions.) The experience of showering was rather akin to sealing oneself inside a torpedo launch tube. Keep your elbows tucked and don’t try to turn around.
As I said to Aisha, when I emerged (slightly more claustrophobic than before), “That’s an experience not to be missed, and also not to be repeated. Except it has to be repeated, or we’ll turn into Cat Piss People.”
“Tiny shower is our nemesis,” became the refrain of our morning convention experience. “Hello, Tiny Shower! We meet again. Who shall have victory this morning?”
Spoiler: not us. It came as something of a relief on Monday morning to be able to say, “Farewell, Tiny Shower! We shall never meet again and I WILL BE VERY HAPPY WITH THAT.”
But I get ahead of myself.
Thus Friday began. I discovered that the hotel, much like the convention centre, did not believe in fruit. Breakfast was a slightly sad affair for me. It would only become sadder over the weekend, for on Saturday and Sunday the array of yoghurt on offer – not very vast – grew more pathetic.
It was lovely to meet Wes Chu and Justin Landon in the breakfast room, though one wonders how Justin coped with the Tiny Showers. Shortly, I shuffled off to the convention, where I saw the Dealers’ Room (so many pretty books) and inflicted myself on the magnificent Amal El-Mohtar at her signing. She didn’t seem to mind me camping out for a gossip session alongside her, because shamefully few people came along to worship her awesomeness. I met Ibraheem Abbas and Eng. Yasser Bahjatt, who were signing at the table beside the amazing Amal, and they were lovely too.
Two lunches and free cake
First lunch was with Amal and Tansy Rayner Roberts and Julia Rios and Jo L. Walton. (I think.) Second lunch was with Fran Wilde, in which we encountered Michael Swanwick and did a LOT of talking. Then somehow it was late afternoon and I wandered back into the Dealers’ Room for Tansy Rayner Roberts’ signing – where she had shamefully few people come to get books by her signed, so I camped out at her table and gossiped away. She is just as lovely in person as she is on the internet, and everyone should be reading her very fun MUSKETEER SPACE serial.
Then it was dinner time, and my friend Martin who lives in London now came to have dinner with me. It was really lovely to have a break from meeting ALL THE NEW PEOPLE and be able to relax and have dinner with someone I’d known in person for longer than an hour. So we had dinner, and then we went on a tour of the parties – Jo Fletcher Books, Tor UK, and Titan Books were all having parties in the Fox bar, and it wasn’t a badged area, so Martin could come visit too. We ran into D. and Zoe, and Charlie Stross and Féorag, and I talked Martin into buying a book I hadn’t even read. (Also the JFB party had free cake.) After Martin left to get home to his partner, I hung out at the party a little longer, where Joe Abercrombie and Mark Charan Newton ganged up on me at the bar to twit me about that old review of Michael Sullivan’s book on Strange Horizons, and I met Jared and Anne while I was actually awake, and Justin introduced me to George R.R. Martin (and I shut my teeth on anything beyond “Hi, nice to meet you,” because I don’t much like his books). And then I fetched up – while trying to extricate myself from party – at a table with Aliette de Bodard and Tricia Sullivan and Sophia McDougall (among others) and Much Was The Talking.
I do not think I managed to attend above four panels besides the ones I was scheduled to be on, but I sure as hell talked to a lot of people.