Orbital 2008 round-up #2

I never did get round to a second from-Eastercon piece, which is a shame, though with my laptop’s comedy battery perhaps not such a surprise. Still, here I am back at home with a sort of follow-up piece. This is less of a summary of my own experiences – which were many and diverse and thus incompatible with my perfectionist, completive approach to anecdote and account – and more a few random notes and links elsewhere.

  • People at science fiction conventions have diverse tastes. Much of this is wonderful, and some of it is scary: I heard one attendee admit to liking John Ringo. In public, no less! This terrifies me.
  • Anecdotes are wonderful: whilst buying one of the few novels I picked up from the dealer’s room (tight budget plus unread book stacks large enough to construct forts with), Frank Herbert’s The Dosadi Experiment, the bookseller (whose name now escapes me) told me about how she had gone into her first Eastercon in search of the book. She found it, and also her husband, which is just wonderful.
  • On the subject of buying books, I was very restrained. I picked up Paul Kincaid’s What it is we do when we read Science Fiction – not the snappiest title but looks fascinating – alongside a volume titled The Undead and Philosophy. I later returned to pick up the BSFA Celebration anthology and the aforementioned Herbert novel, and on the Monday was given a review copy of Kim Lakin-Smith’s Tourniquet. I also got a few copies of some anthology or another.
  • Justin Pickard seems to have enjoyed his first encounter with fandom and conventions, and has excellent summaries of a few of Saturday’s panels.
  • I’ve now sold five copies of Illuminations. Admittedly the first was to fellow BSFA Orbiter scribe James Bloomer, and the next four were to family, but it’s still pretty awesome.
  • Lots of photos are popping up on Flickr. Sadly every single shot I took is of atrocious quality. Did anyone notice my hands shaking over the weekend? Perhaps I was suffering severe withdrawal symptoms, or early-onset Parkinson’s Disease. Either that or I’ve just forgotten how to use that newfangled digital camera again. (Worst. Futurist. Ever.)
  • The already-legendary Sex and the Singularity panel was easily a comic highlight of the weekend, with Charlie Stross’ hippo / leech anecdote no doubt soon to emerge as one of those horrendous “gotcha” intarwub memes. Oh god, the thought of some sort of goatse photoshop just emerged. Going to scrub brain now.
  • Justin and I have agreed that some sort of story must be written involving Mary Poppins and Sherlock Holmes uniting to do battle with the dreaded Hijabzilla! This is an injoke which may be funny if you were at Mieville’s keynote speech and stayed for the Q&A. If not… well… just you wait.
  • A few panels even got me to stick my hand up once or twice. I’ve found that at events involving fandom I revert to my old mode of a very shy individual who prefers to listen to others than pipe up himself (a side-effect of being surrounded by intelligent, often erudite, hard-working people who obviously care a lot about these subjects), but perhaps I’m becoming more comfortable in these settings. I suppose there’s nothing like people being wrongheaded to bring you out of your shell (oh, but I’d just got cable in).
  • Dear David and Laura: I’m sorry I was incompetent at actually having a copy of our book with me, and that I missed you from Sunday onward. It was a pleasure to meet you both and I hope to do so again.
  • Dear Third Row: thank you for having me along for Friday Curry. Apologies for my failures at Being Social. You are intimidating people (see above), and also wonderful people, and I admire you quite a bit. I really don’t mean to be rude.
  • Please, someone scan in a copy of Lawrence Hale’s Space Train. The polarities must be reversed.
  • The panel on Lovecraft resulted in my, upon returning home, reading a baker’s dozen of his shorter stories, and beginning to read Nick Mamatas’ Move Under Ground, which I can confirm is really very good (so far).
  • On the train home I read a punk zine (Next Stop Nowhere #1) to cleanse my mind a little. Half of it was taken up with a Black Cougar Shock Unit tour diary, and I am now very surprised that apparently slightly angry frontman Alex Ulloa didn’t pull my arms off when JoN and I sang jokes about no one coming to see his band. Admittedly we were both drunk, and letting BCSU and Grabass Charlestons stay at our house, but he doesn’t sound the forgiving type. BCSU split up right after that 2006 UK tour, and I feel rather sad that our poor job as hosts may have contributed to that in some small way.
  • That reminds me: my efforts to locate the confluence between SF and punk continue finding incremental success. Turns out that Neil Beynon’s other half, Gemma, has a brother who plays bass in No Choice. She was very surprised that I knew the band, which either says good things about my knowledge of The Scene or rather sad things about punk rock. Still, that was pretty awesome.

And now I must prepare to record a song with my still-unnamed band’s lead guitarist, who hopefully will succeed in not deleting seven hours of hard, drunken work when rearranging partitions. Wink wink, it’s fine really, these things happen.

Oh, and if we met at Eastercon, please leave a comment so I can investigate your blog/LJ/whatever if I haven’t already, and if we didn’t meet/speak and should have done, give me a good telling off and we can resolve to not do that again.

3 Responses to “Orbital 2008 round-up #2”
  1. Liz says:

    Dear Shaun, you should come hang out with the Third Row more. I guarantee we’ll get less scary when you realise our raison d’etre is to mock the Serious Critics in our midst. :) I meant to chat to you on Monday but I got suddenly busy and didn’t get a chance.

    I find you get more confident as you ask more questions and so on – at my first Eastercon I never raised my hand because I was terrified, then I had a Worldcon panel baptism of fire and now I don’t mind it half as much. China Mieville even mentioned at the closing ceremony that when he came to his first Eastercon he was quiet as a church mouse, and now he’s what I would call terrifying and intellectual, so it can happen.

  2. Shaun CG says:

    Dear Liz, that would be cool! I should perhaps hunt down LJ usernames?

    No worries about Monday – I felt like a total zombie for most of the day so would have been terrible conversation. :)

    Well, maybe at my third Eastercon I’ll have a few points to try and make! I’m not really one for public speaking but as with most things I expect it’s just practice and familiarisation. Your Mieville anecdote is reassuring. Perhaps I should expand my vocabulary a bit as well. It was really quite awe-inspiring listening to him sound off with all these wonderful words that were, no doubt, the perfect term for the concept he was trying to convey.

  3. Liz says:

    My LJ username is up there, and I can feed you the rest. I don’t really like public speaking but I have to do it anyway, and Eastercons have really helped out at that.