Friday, August 07, 2009

WorldCon - Day 1 Part 2

I started the afternoon in the Dealers' Room again. Most of them were
set up and ready to go by then (although I still wonder if there may
be a few latecomers) so I did some in-depth browsing. Ended up buying
a back issue of On Spec (Summer '98) and having a good chat with the
editor about the new look for their website. Later, when I passed the
Canadian SF association (can't remember the exact name), I ran into
the folks from Neo Opsis (another Cdn SF mag - been around for about 2
years) who were giving out free reprints of their first issue. Nice!
After that, I stopped at Anticipation/WorldCon 67's merchandizing
table to buy my con T-shirt.

A few minutes later, I noticed George RR Martin was checking out one
of the bookstands (Bytown Books out of Ottawa, I think - they had some
valuable books there, including a beautifully illustrated old edition
of Tennyson's "The Idylls of the King" - very expensive). Since I had
my copy of "A Game of Thrones" in my bag, I figured I'd ask for his
autograph. I felt kind of funny about it though... Wasn't sure if it's
OK to ask for an autograph from an author of this stature when he's
got a signing session scheduled in a couple of days, but I figured
that since there had been a lull in his conversation with the dealer
and he'd turned back to the books, it couldn't hurt to ask. He said
sure (woohoo!). The surprise came though when I took the book out:
rather than the usual chit-chat about how the series has panned out
since it's debut, etc, Martin saw the book and started talking like a
fan. It's a hardcover advance copy that the publisher gave to
bookstores to create buzz prior to releasing if for mass sale. Back in
'96, I was privileged to hear Martin read the prologue at the Winnipeg
WorldCon (I din't think any of us in the small audience at the time
knew what kind of treat we were in for), and later that year, while
working at a bookstore, the boss knew I was an SF fan and gave the
advance copy to me when the publisher sent it. Back to the present:
rather than talking about the story, Martin (who discusses being an SF
fan ever since he was a kid in his Dreamsongs collections) starts
talking about how I've got to get this book in plastic right away. He
tells me it's important for a valuable edition like this to have
plastic over the dust cover (as plain as it is in simple silver with a
blue throne on it). Valuable? I've only really considered dollar value
for this kind of stuff on 2 occasions: collecting comics as a teen
(before the market fell out of that commodity) and in terms of
replacement value for my books when insuring the contents of my house.
But dollar value on the book? For me the value is in the fact that
it's a hell of a good story. Dollar value never really entered into it
because my book collection is like a dragon's hoard - I'll die before
I'm parted with it. No need in that case to dwell on what that
particular edition would fetch on the marketplace. So there's Martin
talking about value and protection, and he pulls over a couple of book
dealers to guess at the value (increased now that it's got his scrawl
in it), and they start talking numbers that are a little shocking
while Martin lectures me about what happens to the value if a wrinkle
in the dust jacket were to tear. Even after I'd said thank-you and
Martin went on his way, the dealers were still on about plastic. One
of them even insisted on helping me "properly" protect the book by
wrapping it in a plastic bag I had from another purchase. Now that's a
passion for keeping books in good condition! After chatting with them
a little further, I put the book back in my satchel and moved along.
Very surreal.

From there it was on to the Display and Art Show area. There's a cool
8-foot suit of armor looming near one wall. The art is par for the
course: a few really amazing paintings, a lot of okay pieces, the
usual stuff that looks like mediocre junior high art class fare, and
then there was the profoundly stupid entry of a Kelloggs Cornflakes
box. Yup. Just a Cornflakes box mounted on the display board. Sigh.

On to my first session of the con: Rereading. An interesting debate on
the value of rereading stories, including a reference to something
called "The Suck Fairy". No, apparently it isn't someone on the
downtown eastside who will do unmentionable things when you call.
Rather, when you read something for the first time and enjoy it, then
leave the book on the shelf for a long time, the Suck Fairy comes and
makes the story suck so that it's ruined when you reread it. I think
the Suck Fairy may have preyed on my Asimov collection!

On to supper. For some reason the authentic Quebecois cuisine
restaurant in the con centre didn't have enough staff, so they were
turning people away! I ended up ambling down the street into old
Montreal to a place called Villier. Great modern Canadian cuisine and
nice service. Definitely worth having the maple pudding for dessert.

Back to the con. Supper caused me to miss some of the sessions I'd
wanted to attend, but I got back in time for the panel on how Dr Who
has been effected by relationships and becomming a sexual being. One
of the DW series writers, Paul Cornell, was on the panel and was very
funny (looked a lot like a friend of mine too). He argued DE has
always been a show for kids who got bullied because The Doctor puts
the bullies in their place using his brains while still looking like a
dork - in doing so he inspired people who get bullied, and so by
having relationships (and the implication of sex), the Doc is telling
geeks they can have a live life too.

The "How to get to Alpha Centauri" was a standard hard science panel
on interstellar travel. Meh.

The last panel of the evening, "I'll Be Back", on the Terminator
franchise was also unremarkable - all the opinions given are ones I've
encountered elsewhere. I don't know, maybe I was just beat from jetlag.

And yet, as exhausted as I am, it's really fracking late and I'm still
up! Time to turn in so I'm not a zombie tomorrow.

Sent from my iPhone

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