And Thus Went London

In truth, I should say London, Cardiff and Edinburgh. But for this, my journal of things writerly and creative, I’m going to focus on two areas: Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival, and LonCon3.

I’ve chosen to represent Edinburgh with this image taken from the Devil’s Advocate. Very nice pub hidden away in Devil’s Close. Love places like this – they’re designed to have small corners where you can hide away and talk, or write.

The main attraction, for us, at the Fringe Festival were performances of “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind” by the Neo-Futurists troupe of New York. You may know one of their members, Cecil Baldwin, as the voice of “Welcome to Night Vale.”  The performance consisted of a series of very short plays, arranged on a menu. A clock is started for 60 minutes. Everyone is encourage to yell out a number.

The troupe then grabs the appropriate play and performs it, trying to get all the plays completed in one hour. We were in the second performance where they managed to (almost) finish the plays, with the timer ringing half way through the last play. Each play was short, imaginative and unique. My favorites were “The Apollo Moon Landing,” “A Hot (Cis)gender Mess,” “Tet (Offensive),” and the brilliant “Anti-Mime.”

And then they would have a new menu for the next show. I can only imagine the time and effort it takes to write, practice, perform, and then update and rewrite this kind of show over and over again.

***

The train from Edinburgh to London gave me time to write. First class is worth it; I was showered in hot tea and pastys, and I finished a short story. The next one, “Bag of Doom” is proving difficult to gestate. I should just start ploinking away, but it’s personal so I may need more room.

***

London itself will take up a massive journal entry. I’m honestly hoping the photographs (which I need to process and upload) will speak for the trip. I’m going to focus on LonCon3.

Before anything else I want to thank the following folks:

  • Paul Cornell, for signing my copy of Timewyrm: Revelation and suggesting I may have one of the last intact copies.
  • Mary Robinette Kowal, for signing Shades of Milk & Honey, providing a very useful scented fan and pointing me to where one can find old handwriting tutorials
  • Cathrynne M. Valente, who signed Palimpsest and seemed intrigued when I said it made me dream of Dubrovink
  • Patrick Rothfuss, who signed and complimented me on the well preserved “Fabio” edition of Name of the Wind.
  • Jeff VanderMeer, who signed Wonderbook for me. I do hope he gets to record the conversations he’s had with musicians who’ve used it as a creative guide, and post it on the website.
  • Madeline Ashby, who signed vN who was very kind and signed the book between panel
  • Anne Leckie, who signed Ancillary Justice, seemed very happy I was rooting for her at the Hugos, and give me a ribbon.

And a very special thanks to:

  • Scott Lynch, for the very fun Literary Beer session and discussing the idea of a Scott Lynch/Jim Butcher black metal band.
  • Seanan McGuire, who held a great Literary Beer and organized an impromptu signing after her reading. I’ll treasure my copy of Sparrow Hill Road
  • Pat Cadigan – who was amazingly gracious and fun, signing my copy of Dirty Work, chatting at her Kaffeklatch about everything from how rough the tube is for anyone with a mobility issue to her position as a 2016 Toastmaster at MidAmeriCon (http://midamericon2.org/)

And now, the impressions:

Mind you, this is from my own little narrow perspective. I probably missed quite a bit which was right in front of me, but I saw a lot which surprised me. This was my first WorldCon and based on previous descriptions, I expected the SF convention equivalent of my family Slavas – the same old crowd, everyone knowing everyone else, gather together in a smoky room talking about the good old days and how things used to be back in Serbia.

LonCon3 was much larger and more expansive than I thought. Using an actual convention center had its boons (the fan village, where I crossed several family picnics and children playing with lightsabers), and its downsides (meeting space was relatively small compared to the sizes of the crowds. At several points, were were barred entry to panels because they’d reached fire code capacity.

That’s not to say there wasn’t enough programming – the schedule was packed with items. I was glad to see a wide variety of topics and attempts to introduce people to SFF from other countries and cultures. The programming team tried, at least on paper, to actually embrace the idea of a WorldCon.

And I was gladdened by the variety of ages throughout the con. There were families there. Young kids participating – even panels designed just for young fans. The non literary tracks didn’t feel tacked on. I almost squealed when a panelist on the Philosophical Mecha panel mentioned Armored Trooper VOTOMS.  So I got the sense the convention runners did want to reach out SFF fans of many different stripes.

The only time things really slipped is how narrow the world at WorldCon was – it felt like the crowd at a NATO meeting. North America, the EU, UK, Nordic countries, bits of Eastern Europe, etc. but I didn’t see any heavy presences from beyond there. Which was a contrast with London itself – I heard everything from Chinese to Italian to Farsi spoken on the streets as we walked around. Part of me wanted to see more of this, but it may be a bit much to ask.

Going to WorldCon was part of our two week vacation. We saved for a year to get everything settled. To someone on a smaller income – heck, to me, just ten years ago – this would be out of the question.   Maybe next year they can use some of the drones they were selling in the dealer’s room to help give people who can’t afford to attend a chance to participate in some way.  Maybe panelists Skyping in?

All in all, I did enjoy myself. There were times when the size was very isolating, and the fact I’m a terrible introvert did not help me. But I’ll still have my memories – how could anyone forget Patrick Rothfuss photobombing Scott Lynch’s literary beer? – and I’ll leave you with this image, which I think sums up the conference. At the info desk, one could see “Lost Tribble” notices… and cricket results.

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