Monday, 25 April 2011

My First Eastercon, the Necessarily Short Version

Because, after all, I was only there for about three hours.  I listened to seventeen seconds of a panel debate, wandered around the art show and the dealers room, got lost a lot, helped steal a table for the Angry Robot signing, sat in the bar with AR editor Marc Gascoigne and friends for a while and then went home (or tried to - we'll come to that.)

So the upshot is that I don't have anything terribly useful or intelligent to say about Eastercon.  As such, my thoughts should probably be taken with a pinch of salt or seven.  They are, in no particular order: 
  • I wish I could have stayed a lot longer.  There was a heck of a lot going on that seemed worth investigating, and everything I saw was interesting enough that I wished I could have paid it more attention.
  • I met a lot of really cool people in a relatively short space of time.  That has to be a good sign.  Particular note should go to spec-fic artist Jethro Lentle and alt-folk musician Jordan Reyne, two brilliantly talented people who were both willing and able to geek out about obscure movies with a complete stranger at the drop of a hat.
  • Dealer passes are awesome.  They're like the con equivalent of the Jedi mind trick.
  • You want to secure a conference?  Having a single reception desk at one of the nineteen or so entrances and a couple of people sitting outside particular rooms just doesn't cut it.  Single point of entry, automated gun turrets.  End of story.
  • The Birmingham Hilton was not a good choice of venue.  Too big and too crazily expensive.  There just aren't that many genre fans who also happen to be oil barons.
  • I hope I get to go again next year.  So long as they don't hold it in a Hilton.  Or in Birmingham.
  • Angry Robot are really cool.  I mean, really.  If I pretty much knew how passionate these guys are about what they were doing before, it's absolutely burned into the crevices of my brain now.
  • When you actually get to meet your publishers and hold one of their books in your sweaty paws and see how beautifully and carefully put together it is and then realise that that's going to be you in about nine months time ... well, that's worth giving up a day for.
On a slightly more coherent note, I mainly just went to say hello to some people I'd only previously met in the digiverse, so everything else was a bonus.  On that basis, it was great to put a face to such names as Lavie Tidhar, Aliette de Bodard, Andy Remic, Adam Christopher - and last but clearly the opposite of least, Dan Abnett.

I may have geeked out a little when I met Dan Abnett.  It's one thing to have been reading someone's fantastic comics work for years and then to meet them and discover they're incredibly nice.  It's quite another to suddenly get it through your head that you're signed with the same publisher.  Heck, I even bought Dan's new book, Embedded.  How's that for adulation?

Of course, what Dan doesn't know is that while he was signing it, I was secretly stealing a lock of his hair*, which will henceforth be kept under my mattress to imbue me with magical super writing powers.  If you're reading this a year from now, wondering how I managed to write fifteen books and ninety seven comics in twelve months and they all be utterly brilliant - well, there's your answer.

So not a bad day at all ... until the train "service" stranded me in Birmingham, with no money, in the middle of the night.  Want to get a train back from Birmingham to Cheltenham on a main line route after a quarter to eight, on a day that's next to a bank holiday?  Well, that's just crazy talk, mister.  And if you end up spending the night in a fleepit hotel then you've only got yourself to blame.

Let's just call it a lesson learned, eh?

* If you've ever seen Dan, you'll have some idea how hard this was.

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