Posted on August 9, 2005 Posted by John Scalzi 7 Comments
Athena is the first kid on her block — and probably in the surrounding six counties as well — to have her very own Beeblebear. Reason enough, I suspect, for having attended Interaction this year.
As for Interaction itself, my feelings for it are summed up thusly: Great convention, questionable location. Glasgow grew on me rather a bit the more I saw of it, and it seems that if I had a little more time to explore I would have been more impressed. However, my hotel was snuggled into an overpass, and the mile walk (or so) to the convention center where Interaction was being held was through some council flats (that’s government housing for the non UK-ers), so the part of Glasgow I spent the most time in was probably not the portion that Glaswegians (as I believe they are called) would have preferred tourists spend their time in. The convention center itself was also not spectacularly laid out for Worldcon-like activities, either the official stuff (some of the panels were in locations that one need GPS tracking to get to) or the unofficial stuff (the hotels where the majority of people were staying were too far away from the convention center, which made easy and random congregating rather more difficult). Of all of the conventions I’ve been to so far — still a reasonably small sample, to be sure — this was the one with the dodgiest location.
Having said that, programming-wise I think this was the best science fiction convention I’ve been to. This is the first time, for example, where all the panels I was on were very well attended, and I heard from other panelists that their panels were equally packed — a sign of enthusastic fans as well as good programming choices. All the panels I attended as an audience member were also excellent. And — as a bonus — the Hugo Awards ceremony was mercifully short: right around 90 minutes, which is apparently a record for brevity and one I encourage all future Hugo Awards shows to emulate (start by cutting out the TV and movie clips — possibly by eliminating the categories they represent).
These Hugos were also especially nice as several people I am fond of won awards: Elizabeth Bear nabbed herself the Campbell (which is for the best new writer), which set the evening on a good foot for me, and then Kelly Link and Charlie Stross came away with actual Hugos, which rocks in several different ways. Some friends and acquaintances did not win, too, which is too bad — one wants one’s friends to do well. On the other hand, they were nominated, which is an excellent feat when you consider how many people are writing science fiction these days. Mostly I’m happy that so many people I like in the SF community are also excellent writers, and that through nominations and awards other people who like SF recognize this as well.
The primary reason people go to conventions, I suspect — and the reason I know I go — is to catch up with people we like. There’s a mild stigma attached to going to a convention for the social scene, but, you know, look: Seeing a bunch of people I like in one place is a draw. And the fact is writing is a solitary pursuit and most of my writer and editor friends live rather far away. Why not see them at a con, in a time in which they have put aside time to see other people? So I had a marvellous time catching up with Scott Westerfeld and Justine Larbalestier, Lauren McLaughlin and Andrew Woffinden, Christopher Rowe and Gwenda Bond, Kelly Link (Gavin Grant, her partner, I did not see much of, sadly), Charlie Stross, Cory Doctorow and Patrick Nielsen Hayden. I also got to share panel and/or bar and/or convention center hallway time with Ellen Klages, Ben Rosenbaum, Eileen Gunn, Elizabeth Hand, Jed Hartman, Anna Feruglio Dal Dan, Geoff Ryman and Brian Aldiss, and was pleased to make the flesh and blood acquaintance of Lou Anders, Christopher Roberson, Juliette Ulman, Ellen Kushner and Marjorie Liu. Gay Haldeman said very nice and very observant things about Old Man’s War, for which I was grateful, and Joe Haldeman admitted he hadn’t read it yet. Then I admitted I hadn’t read The Forever War, and we both agreed that made us even. There are rather quite a few people who I had a nice chat or moment with, but I’ve done enough namedropping for one post.
In all, an excellent time, in a fine country (once you get beyond the M8 overpass, that is). Next year is in LA: That Worldcon will have much to live up to. Fortunately, it will also have In-N-Out in close proximity. That will help.
I spent a few days in Edinburgh, and ended up wandering into the new part of the city, which I think they call the New Town. Thing is, it was built in 1780 or 1830 or some such.
I found the same thing at the place we stayed at in London. It was a rabbit’s warren, very poorly laid out, and we found out that the original part had been built during the Napoleonic War, and then the new part when Victoria was young.
There were a lot of places that were like that, hideously twisted because they were old, or because they were built around buildings that were old, or connected to them, or followed their foundations, or what have you. I forgive the British their tormented architecture.
Looking forward to seeing (and meeting?) you in 2006. It’s a short (8 hours) drive for me and I look forward to it mightly.
And re: Eliminating the TV/Movie Hugos
Are you serious? I actuall think those categories are good to draw some of the other fans to vote that wouldn’t otherwise and to show that we aren’t book snobs and recognize good SF whereever it is found (except in comics but that’s a political issue I don’t want to get into).
Dean: The New Town is 1770s (at least the central part is); you can tell from the street names. After the various political disagreements of 1745/6, demonstrating enthusiastic loyalty for the whole UK thing was at a premium, personified by the Hanoverian monarchy – so many Scottish towns and cities have a spate of George/Hanover/King/Queen/Union Street/Squares &c &c from about then. It’s quite noticeable once you remember to keep an eye out for it…
“Are you serious? I actuall think those categories are good to draw some of the other fans to vote that wouldn’t otherwise and to show that we aren’t book snobs and recognize good SF whereever it is found (except in comics but that’s a political issue I don’t want to get into).”
If they make the fans happy, that’s fine, but I don’t see why I need to have clips inflicted on me at the awards show. They blow the pace and given the usually crappy acoustics and video display, they’re hard to see and here anyway.
In a larger sense, however, I think they’re the most useless of the Hugos, in that I doubt the recipients care about them, and because film and television is so damned awarded out that yet another award in that direction hardly matters. Personally, I would rather see a Hugo for comics/graphic novels, and/or one for video games, then continue either the short form or long form dramatic Hugo.
I don’t know if you’ve already read ‘Lanark’ by Alasdair Gray. If not, your experience of Glasgow (especially the council blocks!) may make it even more enjoyable.
Well, I didn’t go in large part because my back has been twitchy and I was worried about the walk from hotel to con and back, every day, maybe even twice per. So your comments about the hike serve to reassure me that perhaps that was the correct decision, but dang! I wish I coulda been there.
So Saturday I stayed up ’til 4:30 in the bloody am finishing Agent to the Stars — aaargh!
I have to agree with you — the con itself was faboo (when you’re torn between three great programming items at the same time, you know you’re at a good con), but getting there from the Hilton was a right royal pain in the ass. We tried the walking thing a couple of times, then decided, “Screw it — we’re old, we have money, we’re taking a cab.”
Which turned out to be an education in itself, since ALL of the cabdrivers knew of the con, kept asking if various writers were attending, and one loquacious soul commented, “If ye wanna see real science fiction, wait until the pubs close on the weekend — all the aliens will be out onna streets. pissed as a fart.”