Currently Reading

Currently Reading: The Undivided by Jennifer Fallon

Friday, October 1, 2010

Aussiecon4 (Worldcon) Report - Day Four

Bleary eyed but keen I once again strode into the convention centre at 8 a.m. to find it empty. Partying in the vicinity of George R. R. Martin the night before hadn’t dulled my enthusiasm (to say partying ‘with’ George would be a bit of a stretch). I was first in the queue again, hoping that this time everything would go to plan.

People started rolling in much earlier for George's queue. Another guy joined me at about 8:30. His friend had intended to arrive at 7:30 but had issues with public transport (in Melbourne?!? No way!). Sure enough at about 8:45 the friend struggled in, not happy, but eventually satisfied enough that he would be in the group. A line of 10 (the kaffeeklatsch limit) had well and truly formed by 9:15.

Cory Doctorow's early morning reading.

The time in the queue was surprisingly fun. We joked about George and, inevitably, the delay for his next book. There was some discussion about our experiences with ebooks and reading on phones and whatnot. I told everyone that I had read Cory Doctorow’s Makers on my phone, not realising that the man himself was sitting at a table a few metres away. Cory played along, declaring himself 'That guy's a hack.' We also shared experiences from previous klatsches. In one story, some guy who didn’t know the author showed up to the klatsch apparently just make an ass of himself. Not cool, we all agreed. Everything went to plan and we signed up to sip coffee with George. Well, it didn’t go to plan for the Con volunteer who thought he could show up at 9:58 and skip the queue. Sorry champ.

Peter V. Brett

My day officially kicked off with a reading from Cory Doctorow’s upcoming book which deals with the unintended consequences of punishing online copyright infringers by cutting off their internet. He was immediately followed in the same room by the much more shy Peter V. Brett, reading from his insanely rare novella The Great Bazaar.

I was very tempted by a panel entitled ‘Far future: where Fantasy meets SF’ which involved Alastair Reynolds, who I had not yet sighted at the Con, but I opted to attend a bonus kaffeeklatsch with a new Australian writer called Duncan Lay. My decision was immediately vindicated when Duncan slipped me a showbag from the Voyager 15th Anniversary celebrations, which contained a hardcover of Sara Douglass’ Battleax (I’ll get round to it eventually). I first met Duncan at my local Borders the previous Christmas, and again a month or so before the Con, and was eager to continue to support him. To be honest I’m not entirely convinced about the quality of his writing but his work ethic and effort to make himself available to fans are very admirable.

I snuck in a panel about ‘Editing the novel,’ moderated by Ginjer Buchanan. It was more a sharing of experiences and anecdotes than a discussion of editing work but it was enjoyable nonetheless. But winter was coming...

The kaffeeklatsch with George R. R. Martin was undoubtedly my fan highlight of the Con. It kicked off in great style. As if our earlier conversation in the line was prophetic we had a tool in the group. I don’t know what the guy was trying to achieve but he opened with - “So George, I don’t know anything about you” - like it was some sort of challenge for George to validate himself. My friends from the queue and I looked at one another and shook our heads. George has obviously been around so he took it in stride and said, “That’s ok, I don’t know who the f@&# you are either.” The table was won over (as if it wasn’t already). Not that the guy gave up, but I forget his other ‘contributions.’ Fair enough, he was as entitled to be there as anyone, but something like twenty people were turned away from signing up at 10, not to mention any others who would have really liked to spend time with one of their favourite writers.

George talked really candidly about his writing, and happily answered all our questions. There were enough people who were just happy to sit and listen that I got to ask all of the questions I could think of. Without a doubt my favourite reply came when I asked him if part of the reason for the delay of his next book comes from being insecure about his writing, even with all of his experience. George said that it never goes away, and that praise doesn’t really help. “If they’re saying you’re the American Tolkien, and you sit down to write, you can’t help thinking ‘This better be pretty f%*#ing good.’” George also highly recommended Daniel Abraham’s Long Price Quartet to fill in the wait for A Dance with Dragons.

The afternoon went very slowly after George. Sunday was my last day at the Con. I was moping around a bit, disappointed that I wouldn’t be at the Hugo ceremony, and that there were some interesting panels scheduled for Monday. I won’t specifically mention the panels I finished up with because my head wasn’t there, I was thinking about the drive back to Sydney, though I did experience one of those bad panels made up of more fans than professionals.

I’d had such a good time that things couldn’t help but come to an anticlimax.

Convention Day 1
Convention Day 2
Convention Day 3
Lessons from the Convention

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