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Currently Reading: The Undivided by Jennifer Fallon

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Aussiecon4 (Worldcon) Report - Day Two

I had missed the kaffeeklatsch with John Scalzi by arriving at the Con at 12:15pm on Day One (registration opened at 12). I was not going to miss China Miéville. I strode confidently into the convention centre at 8 a.m. It was very empty – I was well and truly first in line (the next person showed up around 9). A solid line was forming by 9:30.

At 9:55 we were informed that the kaffeeklatsch had been rescheduled for the following day. Frustrating, but I was happy to do it all again the next morning. After all, Worldcon comes to Australia once in a decade. Still, not the best start to Day Two.

Scalzi, moments before learning
something my mum has
claimed for years...

Yep... I say nice things.

It would get worse, though I was blissfully ignorant for a few hours. During that time I enjoyed Howard Tayler’s reading of a humorous essay he had written about his transition to writing Schlock Mercenary full time, then rushed to be near the start of John Scalzi’s signing line before attending the ‘Unthinkable! Indescribable!’ panel in which China Miéville, Terry Dowling, Carrie Vaughn and Shane Jaraya Cummings (I doubt I spelt that correctly) discussed the limitations of language in describing horrors outside any human experience (for those who were both lucky and inclined, you could have enjoyed 6 straight hours of China, starting with this panel).

Best. Panel. Ever.
While trying to wrap my mind around China Miéville’s claim that (if I interpreted it correctly) he imagines characters and settings in his stories in words, rather than visual images I stumbled into the most enjoyable panel of the Con. Moderated by Jay Lake, Peter V. Brett, Carrie Vaughn and Howard Tayler discussed ‘Keeping pace: maintaining momentum in fiction.’ The panellists had great chemistry, tremendous humour and some terrific insights. It was perfect!

Interlude: At this stage it probably sounds like I am the biggest Howard Tayler fanboy on the planet, or that I was just generally stalking him. The truth is that I am very new to his Schlock Mercenary work but love his contribution to Writing Excuses (the best podcast for new and growing writers of Speculative Fiction, in my opinion).

Teaching is the most
noble profession.
I opted to dodge the start of China Miéville’s signing in favour of attending a kaffeeklatsch with Kate Elliott. I had met Kate the week before at Infinitas Bookshop (if you follow the link, that’s my back!) and had a great conversation. After showing her respect for school teachers like myself she had secured a fan for life. Once again, Kate demonstrated her love and understanding of writing and provided a great thrill for some long term fans (who frankly put me to shame). Out of the corner of my eye I couldn’t help notice that China Miéville had left his signing table, and my plan to catch him at the end had failed. I figured I could still grab some signatures at the kaffeeklatsch.

After grabbing some lunch I hit up the organisers’ table to make sure that China Miéville’s kaffeeklatsch wasn’t opened early. This was where things started to get messy. One of the guys I had stood in line with earlier caught me and asked if I’d heard what happened with the Miéville klatsch. Confused, I reminded him that I had been there that morning to hear about the postponement. It was one of those times when you suddenly feel that something is wrong, and sure enough, my friend told me that China’s kaffeeklatsch was full, and happening upstairs as we stood. Massive organisational fail.

The peerless George R. R. Martin.
I was pretty cut up about it, but in the end you can’t really get too angry with people who are just volunteers. The net result was that I was free to go and see a humorously lonely George R. R. Martin discuss A Game of Thrones on HBO. It also meant that I regularly harassed the organisers for the next two days to make sure nothing would go wrong with George’s kaffeeklatsch.

I rounded out my afternoon with a reading from the talented (but as yet relatively unknown) Ian Tregillis, who read a short story associated with the setting of his tremendous debut novel, Bitter Seeds. My luck was improving as I returned to the fan lounge to see China Miéville engaged in conversation over near the signing table. As I approached I heard a familiar voice. China was being interviewed by Mur Lafferty, unofficial queen of podcasting, most notably of I Should Be Writing. Two for the price of one. I got to quickly meet Mur before hitting China up for some autographs. Success!

Sorry guys, best I could find.

A slightly mis-advertised and powerfully charged panel about racism in speculative fiction provided an emotional ending to a rollercoaster of a day.

I had to rush out to the airport to pick up my wife and two of our friends, hoping to get back to the Con in time for the Nightmare Ball. After introducing them to the masks they would be wearing we headed over. The ball was probably a little smaller scale and different in general to what I was expecting, but was nonetheless an enjoyable end to the evening. My friends and I burned up the dance floor a little (very little) and I partook of several beverages, knowing that there was no need to wake up early to line up for China Miéville’s kaffeeklatsch (yes, still bitter, apparently).

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