|Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 06:35 am: |
Arrived in Toronto at a reasonably civilised late-afternoon hour. Mild panic ensued when I discovered that none of the ATMs at the airport would take visa. Eventually found a taxi that was able to charge, and checked in at the Strathcona hotel, opposite the main convention hotel. I am indebted to my Scottish friend Debbie (aka Miller Lau) for finding a hotel on site that was cheaper by far than the con hotel. Yay! More money for the dealers' room.
The con was just about underway, so I registered and then found a pub up the road. Very impressed to discover that the soup I had ordered was not put on the bill - according to the waitress because it took an unacceptably long time to arrive. How unlike the home life of our own dear queen - over here, they'd bang the plate down in front of you after an hour without so much as an apology.
I then wandered across to the Royal York and found various folk in the lobby, including Elizabeth Moon (whom I knew slightly) and Esther Friesner, whom I knew not at all except virtually but somehow managed to recognise. The recognition neuron did strange things this weekend, causing me to recognise folk whom I'd never actually met, whilst causing me to walk straight past people I know quite well. Musketeer-type folk kindly allowed me to come along to dinner (for them, and a beer for me after the soup incident) at an interesting market place, with various sorts of cuisine.
Located Debs and strolled down to the convention centre with all my publicity stuff. Here, I ran into Laura Anne Gilman of these boards, and after a quick chat, Debbie and I descended on the dealers' room and committed some jewellery buying. Get in early, that's what I say. Also caught up with John Klima and the Electric Velocipede stand.
I had a kafeeklatsch at 1 pm, which about 5 people attended. Oh well. An objective report of this, plus pics, can be found here:
Very nice to talk to everyone, but the hotel was just a touch stingy about providing yer actual kaffee. I got some, but everyone else had to make do with water. Does that make it a waterklatch?
After this, the bar. Quelle surprise! A select gathering of folk were present, including Laura Anne, Peter Liverakos and Dennis McCunney. Mutual friends were slander- I mean, discussed, and their absence sadly noted, particularly that of Mr Caselberg, conspicuous by his absence, alas. And God knows he's usually conspicuous by his presence. We also had a long conversation about seagulls, bears, and other beasts of the North American field.
In the evening, went out for dinner to a very nice Thai place called the Bangkok Garden with Gardner Dozois, Susan Casper, Chris Lotts, Walter John Williams and various other people. Asimov's paid, for which big thanks.
By now, participants were starting to twig that the TorCon schedule was a strange, elusive thing. People were scheduled onto panels that they had neither requested, nor were qualified to attend ("So, you want to be an artist?" in my own case). Folk found out about panels only after the panel had ended, and I gather that some unfortunates managed to miss their own kaffeeklatsches. I spent some of the morning sorting out a panel in the evening on which I had suddenly appeared, and which coincided with the Bantam Big Night Out.
Then a panel: on what to do once you've written a short story. The consensus was - send it somewhere and write another one. A gentleman at the back mentioned the paradox that it is almost as hard to get an agent as it is to get published, to which I had to reply that it isn't a paradox, it's just extremely difficult. Everyone else (a panel of agents and authors) said the same. There's no magic bullet: it takes diligence, talent, hard work and luck to get published, and that's the bottom line.
Afternoon: in the bar.
Evening: a Broaduniverse rapid-fire reading, followed by the Bantam dinner, with George RR Martin and his very interesting and pleasant partner Paris, Connie Willis, Lisa Tuttle, Patricia Bray and sundry other people. I'd blame booze or jetlag, but the fact is that my memory is and has always been crap. So sorry to everyone I've left out, and don't take it personally. Also I may be remembering things out of order, so sorry about that, too.
Ended up in the SFWA suite, as one does. At least, I think this was Friday? I wussed out early, to the stern disapproval of Laura Anne, and she was quite right, too. The Brits have a rep to maintain. I blame the absence of our drinking champion. Who is Australian, but never mind.
Busy day today, with a reading at lunchtime. Had hair tortured with hot irons in the salon downstairs, which was much patronised by the female con members (the chocolate wrap came highly recommended, as did the Venus Smoke).
Arrived at the reading to find the room in darkness and no microphone - a problem, as I tend to have a quiet voice and also I mumble. My friend Mike managed to sort out the lights, revealing - gasp - about 20 people, only 2 of whom I knew. Did two readings, both from NINE LAYERS OF SKY, which seemed to go down well. There was a gent from Tashkent - where the novel is partly set - in the audience, and I waited for him to tell me that I'd got it all wrong, but he hasn't read it yet. Whew. Spared from public humiliation.
Then we went to the bar, along with Mike and Dennis, and spent the afternoon over wine and a cheese platter, until it was time for me to sign. A steady trickle of people this time, which was nice. A vast queue started forming for George RR Martin, but I remembered the story of Martin at the start of his career being placed next to Douglas Adams and getting no one who wanted an autograph. Some kind fan went round with a bullhorn, advertising Martin's presence, and still no one came. And now look. It gives one hope.
Back to the bar.
In the evening: the pre-Hugo award bash. Lots and lots of the great and the good, all milling and swilling as one tends to do at these things. I ligged along with Peter Garrett as he was this year's Interzone representative, and kindly allowed me to accompany him, in the absence of any female members of the cast of Buffy. Cannot help feeling that Pete got shortchanged, but there you go.
Then the Hugos, and you should all know who won what by now. My friend Karen Traviss and I found ourselves somewhat restless - it was a long ceremony, as usual. Toastmaster Spider Robinson thanked 'everyone for coming, or however you reacted.' Canada's, um, finest scored highly. Then to the Hugo Losers' party, where I spent a pleasant evening talking to Esther, China Mieville, Lawrence Schoen and Neil Gaiman, rather bemusedly clutching his rocket. We all had a stroke.
Then, tiring of the melee, Esther and I repaired to the SFWA suite, where Debs and I ended up drinking Scotch with Laura Anne, Debs and others, which was a lot of fun, and listening to camel jokes (those told by David Honigsburg and Lawrence Schoen were particularly rank).
Came round about 8 and staggered into breakfast. Spent the morning I remember not how, and went out to lunch with my editor, Anne Groell, at a little restaurant not far from the con centre. We were greeted by a waitress who brought a new meaning to the term 'perky' ("I've had no sleep! I've been up all night!" she said, bouncing around and giving rise to the suspicion that she'd been up all night doing speed). Anne told me about production battles on NINE LAYERS and the unfortunate fact that the original cover illustration of my protagonist had him lurking in the bushes like a flasher. But the end result is well worth it.
Signing today at the Broaduniverse table, and I would like to single out Grace O'Malley as acting above and beyond the call of duty in giving out copies of NINE LAYERS. Her efforts on my behalf were stellar. Thank you, Grace. I signed a whole box.
Then back to the bar. Later, Deb and I went to the Chophouse for a quiet dinner: I had the veal, which was excellent, and she had a steak. We took to the Chophouse in a big way.
Then I had a panel with Cecelia Tan and others on "SF vs Fantasy: who gets the best sex?" By now, only Dennis' chocolate-coated coffee beans were keeping the door open between myself and sleep, but the panel was fun.
Ended up in the SFWA suite at a really quite scurrilous story-telling session. I ended up in the hot seat (thanks, Laura Anne…) and did not distinguish myself as an orator, but at least the reputations of the Britpack survived more or less intact (though it is now widely known across the Pond that Darren Nash's new nickname is 'Uday.').
Note to Minz: I will deliver your greeting to Mr Caselberg when I next see him or possibly at a later date, since his guard may now be up. I plan to deliver only half of it, however. I shall not tell you which half, but it is likely that the response will be 'ow'.
By now conventioneers were developing the slack jaw, raccoon-eyes and thousand-yard stare that are symptomatic of the end of the con… I did a long interview for Locus this morning, plus photoshoot. Then back to the bar, where we spent most of the afternoon, incorporating afternoon tea into the packed schedule that bar-sitting entails.
Evening: went out to dinner to the Chophouse with Deb, and Alain Nevant, of Vivendi in France. A highly amusing evening, plus Alain's insights into the male psyche. Terrifying.
Then back to the bar. I crawled to the hotel at a shocking 10 pm.
Deb and I bestirred ourselves this morning and departed in the direction of some big local waterfall or other. Niagara really is somewhat spectacular. We took the boat to the foot of the falls, getting very wet in the process, then went for lunch and margaritas. The area around the falls themselves is an odd mix of the delightful (parks, flowers) and the tacky (casino, HardRock Café etc). Long wait for the bus back, causing some nail-biting on the part of Deb, who had a flight to catch. But she made it. I went and had a quiet meal of green tea and sushi, then took myself to the airport for my later flight. Slept some of the way, waking at an ungodly hour to discover FINDING NEMO on the video system. Got really over-involved with poor little fish. There was the obligatory screaming child in the row opposite and I'm sure we all know what that was like. Back in Blighty, I spent an exciting 40 minutes at the baggage carousel due to a faulty baggage cart. Grrr. Got into Brighton about 12 and promptly passed out.
All in all, despite the organisation being pretty shambolic, it was a good con for me. Met some highly entertaining folk and had a generally excellent time, professionally as well as personally.
|Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 07:15 am: |
Mine? Mine. Mine. Mine.
|Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 07:25 am: |
Okay, I'm happy now. I can never rest until I read your Worldcon report for some reason. Thanks Liz.
|Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 09:09 am: |
"There was a gent from Tashkent - where the novel is partly set - in the audience"
And the odds on that are...
Must have been a little nerve-wracking, but if he kept quiet it either means you got it spot on or he works for Tashkent intelligence services monitoring anyone who mentions the place in print.
|Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 09:21 am: |
>Mine? Mine. Mine. Mine.
Heh, heh, heh!
The thing with the sail was really cool. I'm easily pleased.
>Okay, I'm happy now. I can never rest until I read your Worldcon report for some reason. Thanks Liz.
That is a very gracious thing for an arch nemesis to admit. I am glad that I have bestowed peace of mind, albeit temporary.
>Must have been a little nerve-wracking, but if he kept quiet it either means you got it spot on or he works for Tashkent intelligence services monitoring anyone who mentions the place in print.
Oh God. I've had experience of the Tashkent intelligence services and I don't want any more of it! Eek.
|Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 04:28 pm: |
Okay, Gaiman winning a Hugo should not cause people to have a stroke. He's done it before.
|Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 10:53 pm: |
I had the exact same experience as Liz, only no signings, no readings, and I rarely seemed to be in the same room drinking with her. But it was basically the same. Except we didn't close the Tor Party until around 6am, then off to breakfast, so I got to bed about twelve hours after she did on Friday night/Sat morning. Oh, and then there were the helium balloons and aerial assaults using bookmarks as ammo dropping from the 12th floor: this was someone else's party, who shall remain unnamed, and I was merely a vocal enabler--no actual felonies were committed by moi (that I'm aware of). Like I said, pretty much the same.
Oh, and James, you were sorely missed. And I apologize in advance (not that you don't deserve it)
|Posted on Friday, September 05, 2003 - 02:00 am: |
I was at your reading along with the guy from Tashkent. I slipped in sufficiently late, and was seated at just the wrong angle, such that for a little while I thought China Mieville was sitting raptly listening to you, and envying him because he might be close enough to actually hear properly. But at some point I twigged that he didn't have enough ear piercings, and then he turned his head enough for me to notice the facial hair, and then once it was over, more or less, he asked a question and I heard the accent.
I felt bad for whatever author came after you when ABSOLUTELY EVERYONE IN THE ROOM LEFT after your reading. Not bad enough to stay, mind you.
Anyway, it was nice to see you, even if from a slightly inaudible distance. What I managed to decipher of your actual reading sounded fun. I haven't picked up Poison Master yet, but it's high on my list.
|Posted on Friday, September 05, 2003 - 02:45 am: |
Bluejack - you shoulda said 'hi'! (We'd have dragged you into the bar, mind).
I'm sorry about the inaudibility. I was expecting a mike, as mentioned. I did check initially to see if the folk at the back could hear, but they said yes, so probably I started slipping after that. Oh well! Hope you enjoy PM and let me know.
|Posted on Friday, September 05, 2003 - 02:46 am: |
>Okay, Gaiman winning a Hugo should not cause people to have a stroke. He's done it before.
Heh. Heh, heh, heh.