Adventures In Visiting England and Conventions: Part III: AT LAST FRUIT

View from the hotel room window.

View from the hotel room window.

Saturday morning was the morning of the Strange Horizons Brunch, 1000-1200. It was also the point at which I began to realise that I wasn’t ever going to get more than about four hours’ sleep in a night at this convention.

Fruit is exciting

Strange Horizons Brunch took place in the fan village, and was very thrilling. IT HAD FRUIT. As the ExCel centre and environs was a bit of a fruit and veg wasteland, as far as I could tell, this was incredibly exciting to me.

I did finally get to meet Niall Harrison and Nic Clarke and Mari Ness and Stephanie Saulter and Tori Truslow and Foz Meadows (properly) and Abigail Nussbaum and some other people whose names I am forgetting – were Shaun Duke and Paul Weimar and Erin Horakova there? Lal whose surname I cannot spell? Maybe. They are all truly excellent people to talk to, and it was lovely to finally meet them in the flesh – although Niall is insanely tall and skinny, it’s kind of wondrous.

Your humble correspondent breaks a resolution

Saturday was also the day I broke a resolution and bought a book. And thereafter the floodgates kind of opened. I DIDN’T MEAN TO, HONEST. But they were also giving away books in the “Library” area of the fan village – it seemed that Gollancz had brought absolute crates of books to give away, particularly from their SF Gateway Omnibus series but some others also – so I wandered out of Saturday having acquired a Kate Wilhelm omnibus and having bought Pat Murphy’s The Falling Woman from the Gollancz table.

For lunch I met the amazing Lesley Hall, and shortly thereafter tried to attend the panel called “Your ‘realistic’ fantasy is a washed out colourless emptiness compared to the Rabelaisian reality.” Discuss. But the room was standing room only, and half an hour in to what bid fair to be an excellent panel involving Kate Elliott, Nic Clarke, Edward James, Kari Sperring and Jenny Blackford, security kicked the standees out. After trying to hop into another panel, I felt ill, and ended up going back to the hotel room to nap for a while.


Naps are wondrously restorative. I came back to the convention in time to sit in on two panels that I wasn’t scheduled on, “Travel in fantasy,” starring Michelle Sagara, Leigh Bardugo, Scott Lynch, Jenny Blackford, and Katie Rask, and “The Joyful Poetry of Space Opera,” starring Adam Roberts, Hannu Rajaniemi, Elizabeth Bear, Rosie Oliver, and Carl Engle-Laird, which sort of mostly turned into the Adam Roberts show. But both were fun to attend.

Then I was on a panel with Mari Ness, Justin Landon and Nic Clarke. Unfortunately, this panel was moderated by Myke Cole, and his style of moderating rather clashed with I think the kick-back-let’s-have-fun bloggers-vs-epic-fantasy snarkfest that I think the rest of us really wanted the panel to be. (He seems like a nice guy, just the wrong guy to moderate us for a 2000hrs “fun stuff” panel.) Justin and Nic took great pleasure in my blushes when they kept bringing up the Michael Sullivan review and responses thereto.

Afterwards, I met Chance Morrison for the first time, whom I’ve known on the internet for what seems like forever. That was pretty excellent. Also pretty excellent was the party in the fan area bar, where I got to chat some more with some more excellent people, including Aisha and Irene and Carl and Foz. (I missed the Gollancz party that was going on that evening. Too much stuff! Too many people!)

Then back to the hotel to (try to) sleep, so that I could be prepared to moderate an 1100 panel the next day.

Irish people talk shit about Irish stuff

I could not bring myself to be serious about the “What Does Ireland Have To Offer” panel at 1100hrs on Sunday. I dressed up in Hugo-award-ceremony-going clothes and got myself to the convention in time to take in the 1000 panel on “The Spies We Still Love,”, and loaded up on caffeine, and rocked up to the panel that I was having at 1100 with the lovely Ruth Frances Long and Susan Connolly and our token American, K.A. Laity. And I introduced the panel in Irish, and then tried to the direct the conversation in fun directions (in English) thereafter…

…there were two American blokes in the audience who asked weird questions. One wanted to know if there was any science fiction being written in Ireland, as if fantasy did not count, and the other wanted to know what influence Irish folkore had on Irish science.


The panelists had some fun, I hope, talking about how Irish mythology is basically “Don’t piss off the weird people who live over there.” I had fun, anyway.

But then I had to run to my 1200 panel, “Seeing The Future, Knowing The Past,” moderated by a lovely bloke, one William Brad Hafford, writer and Middle Eastern archaeologist specialising in the Bronze Age, and starring Kari Sperring, Karen Miller, Sarah Ash, and, well, me. Sarah Ash was a rather quiet panelist; I feel Karen Miller talked over her once or twice. Miller was very engaged, and wanted to talk mostly about the demands of the middle of the market; while Kari and I (aka the Socialist Historian end of the table) basically leapt in with Cool History Stuff ™ at every opportunity, and talked about how grand narratives are simplified consolatory ones, and that the really interesting stuff happens in the rough unsmoothed edges of history.

Something along those lines. Someone who was in the audience might have had a better view of what we actually succeeded in talking about.

6 thoughts on “Adventures In Visiting England and Conventions: Part III: AT LAST FRUIT

  1. I promise you that if you ever come to visit me in California, there will be plenty of fruit! …(I feel there may be a flaw in that plan somewhere…)

  2. Fruit is good! You should have seen my reaction to the Hugo Losers’ Party’s fruit platters, though, after that fruit wasteland of the convention centre.

  3. I was so bummed at missing the panel with you and Kari. I can’t remember why I did, but it might have been breakfast with Foz. Or something else where I do remember stopping and saying, “oh shit. I wanted to be somewhere!”

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