More than a fortnight after the fact, here come some notes about the Montreal Worldcon.
I’ve uncovered a knack this year for getting sick right on the eve of cool stuff. It’s already cost me a birthday outing (not mine, but one I was sorry to miss) and a writer’s retreat. And sure enough, the little cough the night before the trip to Montreal turned into tiredness and a cloggy head by the end of the last train voyage which grew in its turn into a premature dose of Post Con Bug that wrote off most of the first two days of Anticipation. In no particular order, here are some highlights from the rest of it.
The Angry Robot launch was the undisputed high point of my Worldcon. When I started entertaining the idea of accompanying D there, what tipped it over from “might be cool” to “time to book tickets” was finding out that the publishing imprint run by my friend Marc Gascoigne would be launching there with the first novel from my friend Kaaron Warren as one of its flagships. This was the first time in years that I’d met either of them except over email, and what better way to meet them both in the flesh again? New acquaintances via the launch were Kaaron’s fellow authors Colin Harvey and Lauren Beukes (whose Moxyland I bought, had signed, and am two chapters into at the moment), Lee Harris of Angry Robot’s staff and the man behind the online magazine Hub, and Angstrom the robot, who had a station outside the door greeting arrivals to the party, keeping the younger members of Kaaron’s family in delighted, giggling fascination, and overclocking his Gigolo Chip with the female partygoers. You can see him in action here.
Not even Angstrom could win over everyone up there, though: we’d apparently been allocated a suite on a non-party floor by accident and it wasn’t long before serious men in dark jackets with walkie-talkies were milling about the front door giving orders. There had been complaints about noise, about crowding, about people drinking beer out in the corridor (oh noes!) and who knows, maybe Angstrom tried to chat up someone he shouldn’t have. We were chased down the lifts into a spare room on the fifth floor, which turned out to be a blessing: Five was the main party floor. Not only did we have a flood of fresh partygoers (and one Klingon) come in to investigate the new people with their new wine supply, but the consuite was next door and we managed to establish a wine-for-food deal which benefited both parties greatly. I still wasn’t a hundred per cent that night, and was forced to bail and crash early, but Anticipation will be the Angry Robot Con for me.
I’m not too much of a party animal, truth to tell, even when I’m well, and so don’t have much else to report from the party circuit apart from quick glimpses. The Tor and Japan parties I was still glassy-eyed and wrung-out, so have only brief memories of having Larry Niven pointed out to me and declining sake. I felt a little guilty about the Denvention thank-you party, since I hadn’t actually been and therefore wasn’t in the group being thanked, but the Chicago bid party was cool, and the Brotherhood Without Banners party was dark and crowded but also cool. I’d sat opposite someone with a BWB shirt on the way up and had wondered what it was: it’s a George R R Martin unofficial fan club, and yes, the man himself was there, drinking and chatting. I had a cup of something blue that was presented to me as Kraken’s Blood. It was rather sweeter than I expected. Perhaps the kraken was diabetic.
I also made a point of going to the ChiZine party, since last year they were kind enough to give me an Honourable Mention in their annual short story competition. Like the AR party, this was also a book and imprint launch for a slew of anthologies and chapbook novellas from ChiZine Publications. I bought several – I’ll have to document them later since I’m on the train and my convention book haul is on its way back to Australia by Canada Post, but I have high hopes for these, particularly The Tel Aviv Dossier and a David Nickle anthology from which the author read a nastily beautiful piece of flash fiction entitled “The Mayor Will Make A Short Statement”. It’s one of those stories that has you simultaneously smiling with pleasure at the deftness of the author’s touch while wincing and shuddering at the creepiness he’s evoked. (No links for the above, sorry, I can’t seem to get to the CZP page.)
I’m filling up on the words again, so I’m going to break this up and move the actual panels to subsequent posts. I should therefore mention the other main non-panel thing I went to, the morning “stroll with the stars” events. This was an excellent idea, one worth repeating for Melbourne: a simple, liesurely one-hour stroll out from the convention centre and around a few nearby streets (Old Montreal one morning, Chinatown the next), with a few Names rolled into the mix to provide a nucleus for the conversation. These were just what I needed: something to give me a bit of fresh air and movement of a morning, as opposed to lying in the hotel room feeling wiped (or sleeping in and having a junkfood breakfast, which is what I would have been doing had I been well). I didn’t do much of the talking – sick or well, mornings aren’t my thing – but even if you don’t approach your author of choice you get all sorts of stuff swirling around you, like Joe Haldeman talking about his teaching, or Cory Doctorow laying out the specs for the world’s least practical watch.
Panel notes to follow.