September 3rd, 2005, 06:18 AM
Worldcon, Glasgow: a personal experience.
The Worldcon was a wonderful experience. May I say if ever you have a chance to go to one, grab it with both hands. It doesn't matter what you are interested in, there will be something for you. Even sitting in the coffee shop and talking to other people was worthwhile. A writer can learn so much from readers and other writers; a reader can only be stimulated by contact with so many people who have a similar interest...
For reasons of expense saving, I was staying with my daughter in her tiny Glasgow basement, so I didn’t have the benefit of living on site, so to speak, but never mind. We started the morning in the coffee shop at the entrance to the Interaction concourse and usually met some great people before the programme even started.
After that, it was sort out what panels I wanted to get to for the day, but alas, I rarely managed even a quarter of what I intended. They either clashed, or I was waylaid, or dragged off elsewhere…but that was all fun anyway.
The panel on whether the future of world politics was one of the most memorable. As I remember (and my memory could be faulty) it consisted of Ken McLeod, three Simons of varying political persuasions, John Jarrold and Patrick Nielsen Hayden. It became quite heated. Other panels were simply funny; others informative…as far as I was concerned it all came to an end far too soon. I’m sure the organizers were relieved, though.
As for my personal part: it started with the reading. The Hobbit turned up (thanks Mark!) and several others I didn’t know – plus new and old friends to lend some moral support. Someone complained afterwards that what I chose to read had no magic. Ah. The comment took me back a bit, and I didn’t really say much that was sensible to her afterwards! I read from Gilfeather, which is, in part, the story of a pacifist physician confronted with magic and determined to find a logical explanation. In the end his disbelief has consequences that shatter his existence. And yes, there is plenty of magic there! Anyway, I was just so glad to see that there were people in the room…
The panel I was dreading “Is The Future Non-Western?” actually went off quite well, although I rather think it didn’t stay on topic. My own feeling is that the sheer size of China, and to a lesser degree India, is what will tip the scales in the future. If every family in China possesses a refrigerator and one car, the world will change irrevocably. It is as simple as that. And I am not sure that reality came across as strongly as it should have done. Anyone wanting to write sf of the future has to be aware of the impact of a giant when he flexes as much as a toe, if indeed they want to write realistic fiction.
From an even more personal perspective, I think I benefited as a writer from the networking experience of a Worldcon. I met several publishers and editors. Other writers (and even an Oz bookseller) were mentioning me to UK and US publishers, with the result that one expressed a keen interest in reading my work. The MS of the first volume of The Mirage Makers is now on his desk. So my grateful thanks to my fellow writers who showed the true spirit of the writing fraternity. I also had a three hour lunch with my agent (whom I don't get to meet nearly often enough as she lives in Devon) so that was very satisfying too.
And then there was the partying…
(And in the middle of it all one night, I went to a gig at the Nice 'n' Sleazy in Sauchiehall St where my daughter's band, F.O. Machete was performing. Now that must have been quite a sight: I half expected to be politely asked by the bouncer if I was quite sure I was in the right place!)