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.