The Early Days of a Better Nation

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Is Serious the New Fannish?

Last weekend I was at Interaction, the 63rd World Science Fiction Convention (the Worldcon) in Glasgow. The venue was the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre with its associated hotels. Constructed on a formerly derelict stretch of Clyde shore, the SEC and the Science Park across the water from it look some spaceport of the future.

If you want links to blogs by people who were there, Cheryl is rounding them up. (If you're reading this much after it was written, go here and scroll down.) My own impressions are limited by the fact that I was on thirteen programme items from Thursday through Sunday, and had neither time nor energy to go to any others apart from the opening ceremony and Christopher Priest's Guest of Honour talk.

The opening ceremony was fun and I was pleased to see that it used part of a greeting to the con by Edwin Morgan, the poet laureate of Scotland, which I and Ron Butlin had recorded some months ago. (The rest of that DVD, including two readings and an interview, may be available to any serious fannish or academic panel that may want it. Ask me sometime.)

Almost every panel was packed out. The SEC concourse looked a lot quieter than it had ten years ago at Intrsection, the previous Glasgow Worldcon. This was almost certainly because most of the con was at panels. The programming had a strong backbone, and the discussions were mostly sensible, though I had a qualm at one point when I found myself citing SF stories in evidence. Is serious the new fannish? There seemed to be fewer people in the sort of costumes that the media like to equate with SF fandom. This may well be because I've grown blase about them in the last decade.

Also in the past decade I've made a number of friends in fandom. I met quite a few of them there, and I hope I made some new ones. Carol and I thoroughly enjoyed the various bid and fandom parties that swirled around the balcony of the Hilton stairwell. Patrick Neilsen Hayden took us out to dinner. Orbit threw a fine party. I talked to my editors and agent about the next book. Charlie won a Hugo, as did Edward James and Farah Mendlesohn. Farah and Edward wangled an invite to the Hugo nominees' party for contributors to their winning volume, The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction. So Carol and I got in. For that and all other hospitality, much thanks.

The Dealer's Room trade seemed steady rather than busy. The NESFA people were pleased to see me, and I them. They gave me a book and discussed my forthcoming NESFA collection (for Boskone in February 2006). I bought Parietal Games, the new collection of essays by and about M. John Harrison, from the Science Fiction Foundation stall. It looks good and I will no doubt blog about it later. Ever the sucker for space movement memorabilia, I bought badges of Gagarin, Koralev, and a pioneer cadre of cosmonauts from the Russian fans' table (manned by the same guys as ten years ago, selling the same commie kitsch). Their Worldcon bid is for Moscow 2017. I wouldn't rule it out.


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