Monday, August 24, 2009

Talking Heads Talking Steampunk

Here's a piece that was on the CBC website a couple of weeks ago that I caught while at WorldCon but didn't have time to post: Talking Heads frontman is doing some cool stuff using an old pump organ to make a building into a musical instrument. The cool SF element to it? David Byrne openly calls his sonic experiment "steam-punk technology".

Which Comics Are Best? - The Kind That Go "Khaaaaaaaaaan!"

I received a pleasant surprise at work last week after returning from my WorldCon vacation when my friend Steve showed up with the gift that keeps on giving awesomeness - a stack of comics!

Lucky me, it was IDW's 3-issue comic version of "Star Trek II - The Wrath of Khan". Anyone who lets me talk Trek more than 10 seconds knows that TWOK is my favourite installment in the franchise.

While I haven't read through them in full yet, I've skimmed each from cover to cover and the art looks like it kicks ass. Looking forward to sitting down with them this weekend, possibly muttering: "To the last, I will grapple with thee..."

A Word about The Time Tunnel

Sometimes the camera phone is more of a curse than a blessing.

Last week we went with some friends to a steakhouse in Richmond called "Chop". Good food and service, but what was noteworthy from a geeky perspective was the round tunnel with alternating rings of light and dark that they'd built to connect the bar to the restaurant. Seeing someone walk through it reminds me of the old 60's TV series "The Time Tunnel" (which I saw in reruns as a kid in the late 70's) - or, for the younger crowd, Doctor Evil's time machine in the Austin Powers movies.

I had to get a picture of it, so my wife snapped a shot of me doing the classic Time Tunnel off-kilter leap. Sadly, with it being relatively dark, and with the iPhone's onboard camera being of dubious quality, the photo wasn't as good as I'd hoped. The real kick in the butt is that the shot is reasonably clear on the phone's gallery screen - it just sucks when posted to the blog here.

Ah well. That's what I get for trying to show the world the secret location of the Time Tunnel.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

WorldCon - Day 5: a Day Late and a Dollar Short

Sorry for this post coming in a day late, but when I left the con
yesterday I decided to relax on the train and take in the scenery.
After meeting-up with my wife and parents in Ottawa, it was off to
dinner and then turning in early to get some much-needed rest. But
back to the con...

Monday was the last day of Anticipation/WorldCon 67, and for once, I
got off to an early start (relatively). I was at the convention centre
by 11 (mainly because I was up early to check out of the hotel) and
began the day with the session on the Drake Equation and the Fermi
Failure. The room was packed solid. The panel covered all of the usual
possibilities for why, if there are aliens, we aren't detecting them
and how we can do a better job of looking for them. And it was a
fairly entertaining discussion. But the best part was when one of the
audience took it upon himself to find another, bigger room. This gave
rise to some great jokes touching back on the subject of the
session... First the panel wanted to be sure if the larger room had a
mic&speaker system to ensure they'd be heard at the back of the room -
much like the concerns of finding a way to get coherent signals to
other civilizations over great interstellar distances in a reasonable
amount of time. Then, as we all got up and were crossing the hall to
the other room, it occurred to me that we were illustrating how an
advanced species should be observable in its efforts to expand outward
from a home world (room) with inadequate resources to a new space
better suited to its needs. Then, once we were settled in to the new
room, someone in the audience observed that others/latecomers might go
to the old room looking for the session, and finding no trace of it
and no clue that it had left or where it was gone, might then conclude
that it had never existed at all - just like astronomers who might
look at part of the sky where another civilization might once have
lived but vacated, and having missed their signals, might assume it
had always been empty. Ah, geek humour.

Then it was on to the session on genetic engineering our offspring. It
was interesting enough.

After grabbing a quick lunch at Subway, I hit the Dealers' Room one
last time. Good thing too - one of the booksellers had managed to
score a single extra copy of Distant Early Warnings (a new anthology
of Canadian SF edited by Robert J Sawyer - they'd sold out a few days
ago and didn't expect to have any more). I bought it and then ran into
Nalo Hopkinson across the room and she was kind enough to sign her
short story in it.

At that point, I headed to my last session of the day: Dealing with
Disasters. Lots of spirited discussion in this one - especially when
Hurricane Katrina and the tragic failures of the US government during
it were brought up in example. Ultimately, the consensus was that
individuals need to prepare themselves to deal with natural disasters
like ice storms, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc and that having
the right frame of mind is as important as being well-supplied. What
was interesting though was when the panelists noted there are some
mega disasters - like a massive asteroid impact or the eventual super
volcano eruption under Yellowstone park - where there's just no point
in spending much time or effort worrying about it because there's
nothing you (or the government) can do and they're not survivable
anyway. To sum up the message of the panel for when disaster comes, in
the words of Douglas Adams: Don't Panic.

And that was the end. Sure, I would have liked to have stayed around
for George RR Martin's reading, and it might have been nice to be
there for the closing ceremonies, but I had a train to catch, and by
that time of the afternoon, you could feel it in the air: regardless
of how much was left, the con had wound down and was more or less
over. It was like being at a party at the end of the night: sure you
can hang around for one last drink and a final weary laugh, but you
know when it's over. Time to go.

So that was WorldCon 67. Thanks for putting on a great con, Montreal!
Au revoir!

(now for a couple of days of non-geek-related vacation back east
before heading home)

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Sunday, August 09, 2009

WorldCon - Day 4

Some days you've just gotta role with the punches.

Today started with a punch to the gut when I made the mistake of
following the recommendation of a friend (who's a Montrealer) and some
other locals who suggested I try a fast food chain unique to Quebec
called La Belle Province. I was told their hotdogs were the best and
that their fries, though greasy, were the best. The only virtue of the
gut bomb that ensued was that it was cheap - which about sums up the
quality of their excuse for food. The dogs were small and tasteless
and the fries weren't potatoes fried in oil so much as oil garnished
with some potato slices. Hell, the chips weren't even cooked all the
way through - that might have interfered with them being a delivery
mechanism for the month-old grease. Usually it's a good idea to listen
to the locals when it comes to finding a place to eat, but this dive
represents a cultural divide that just cannot be crossed.

With that glob sourly sloshing around in my stomach, I fled for the
nerdish safety of the convention centre and went straight to the first
session I'd put on my list for the day. Or so I thought. I got to the
room, grabbed a seat and waited for the panel to get under way. But
rather than launching into an examination of a possible "peak metal"
crisis, the bunch at the front started muttering about teaching SF (or
not) in universities. I knew I had the right room, so peak metal must
have been moved to another location/time or cancelled. Sometimes it
helps to check the schedule update board at the info desk before
starting the day.

Didn't have much interest in hanging around listening to a panel
rehash the obvious (SF is not taught or respected in nearly enough
post-secondary institutions, although it should be), so I decided to
bail. There was no point in trying to track down Peak Metal because by
the time I got back to the front of the centre and down to the level
with the info desk (the place reminds me of Scroob's line in
Spaceballs about the ship being too big to walk or the movie will be
over - the Palais de Congres is that big), figured out what was going
on and got to the new room (if there even was one), I would have
missed too much.

So I went to the Dealers' Room instead. Which was a good thing because
the handout/freebie table at the back had issues of "Emerald Eye",
anthology of Irish SF, up for grabs. Not one to turn my back on a free
SF anthology, I snagged one and browsed for a bit before heading to a

This time it worked out! I went to the panel on alternate histories.
The first part of the discussion looked at why most alternate
histories these days tend to be about WWII or the US Civil War (and to
some extent the Roman Empire). Reasons offered included that's what
publishers want to buy, and that's what fans want to read (because
these wars offer clearly-defined battles of right vs wrong, and
because - in the case of WWII - readers' parents or grandparents might
have been involved). This was followed with an extended discussion of
why not WWI, which had massive pacts on our existence. The rest of the
session involved thoughts about other turning points in history that
could be fodder for good alternate histories, and some stories that
did cover other historic ground.

From there it was on to a session about the economics of interstellar
trade. It was split between non-FTL possibilities and (to a much
lesser extent) trade between FTL-enabled civilizations. Basically, in
the most likely scenario of no FTL, there's not much use for
physically travelling and trading. Information might be the only
reasonable commodity - if the other civilization even put a value on
our knowledge. Art and rare, difficult to reproduce commodities were
other possibilities mentioned. They also hashed over the "why bother"
scenario of civilizations that could invest enough resouces and
technology into making a reasonable interstellar voyage wouldn't need
to - they could make anything our civilization has themselves. And
they raised the spectre that having been broadcasting for so many
decades, we might have already given our info away for free.

The Landscape in Fantasy session afterwards had interesting subject
matter (comparing physical and social landscapes and their effects on
storytelling, culture and sense of self) and most of the panelists
were worth while. My only issue was that one of the panelists (and I
won't name any names) had a way of over-emphasizing every word that
came out of her mouth that was gigantically pretentious - especially
because she wasn't saying anything especially worth while.

From there it was the search for supper. My first attempt was a miss
when I discovered the diner I'd seen a few blocks away was closed. In
fact, downtown Montreal is pretty quiet around supper on Sunday. The
second attempt involved a pasta joint in the convention centre. Might
have been okay if they were properly staffed and taking care of
customers properly, but when the line was 40 people long and not
moving at all, I realized there was no point in hanging around. At
last I settled for St Hubert, a rotisserie chicken place that is
another one of those local legacies. Basically, the food's Swiss
Chalet quality in an atmosphere that's trying to be a bit more hip.
The food was okay and let me get back to the convention centre in
short order.

I arrived about half an hour after the Hugo ceremony had started, so I
knew I wouldn't be tweeting the results like with the Auroras. I
considered blowing off the Hugos for a session on cross-genre hard SF,
but I discovered that had been cancelled. None of the other sessions
were of much interest, so I figured better late than never for the
awards ceremony. It moved along reasonably quickly and had some funny
moments. No big surprises though.

One more day left - or at least part of one - before things wrap up
and I catch a train to Ottawa to start the non-SF portion of my

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Saturday, August 08, 2009

WorldCon - Day 3

Typical late start to the day: brunch at a place around the corner
called Eggspectations. The food was good (pretty hard to screw-up eggs
& toast & sausages) and inexpensive.

At the convention centre by 1-ish, so I figured I'd check out the
dealers' room again. They'd finished the display with the "Faux Giant
Steam Robot" from the "Murdoch Mysteries" TV series (I always knew
that show was going to flirt with steampunk one of these days!) so I
grabbed a few shots. There were a few more dealers around today and
the ones I'd seen Thursday had more on display, so I did some more
browsing with the intent to buy. I ended up picking up another back
issue of On Spec (Spring '98), Tesseracts 13 (this year's installlment
in the Canadian SF anthology series - not on the shelves yet), and a
cool 1-inch lapel pin shaped like the new Galactica. The bonus was a
free copy of Rich Horton's "Science Fiction: The Best of the Year -
2006 Edition". Someone (I'm guessing the publisher) put out a couple
of boxes of copies on the freebie table at the far end, so I got one
(not going to pass up a free book when it's an SF anthology - even if
it is a couple of years old).

It wasn't a total success though. I'd wanted to buy a copy of Robert J
Sawyer's new Canadian SF anthology "Distant Early Warnings" (or
something to that effect) that I'd seen the other day, but it was sold
out by the time zi arrived today. I also missed out on a new post-
cyberpunk anthology. Oh well, I'll just have to wait until they hit
the shelves at the bookstore in a little while.

On the costume front, there were a few different ones today: more
steampunk types, the usual assortment of anime styles, medieval/
Renaissance enthusiasts, a few Jedi, Browncoats, and one girl who was
just smokin' in a classic 60's style Star Trek women's Starfleet
uniform. Later in the day, Rorschach made an appearance, complete with
can of beans (he even went into a restaurant to borrow a fork). I was
glad to have caught a picture of that guy (too bad I missed Ms Trek

The day's sessions got off to a great start with a panel doing a post-
mortem on BSG. Really the panelists and the audience were focussing on
the final episode and where it failed, as opposed to evaluating the
entire series, but there was a lot of very thought-provoking
discussion from all involved. One scene that was discussed at length
was the decision to cast the fleet into the sun, with many people
agreeing it represented anti-intellectualism (one panelist remarked it
meant they were throwing away not only their technology, but their
accumulated knowledge/history/wisdom as a way to solve their recurring
genocide problem, but he then noted that "nobody ever solved anything
by being stupid"), one suggesting it may have been like Cortez burning
his ships, and even a couple saying they agreed with the choice. The
discussion also included the treatment of Starbuck, Hera's
significance and a range of other aspects of the finale. This was what
a session should be. I left feeling refreshed and energized.

From there it was on to a session about culture and geography, which
unfortunately turned out to be pretty boring. I left about 10-15
minutes early.

Then I went on to a Kaffeeklatsch with author Robert Charles Wilson. I
lucked into this one: when I arrived, I checked with the Kaffeeklatsch
registration desk to see if I could join Wilson's roundtable tomorrow
(when it was originally scheduled). But they'd rescheduled for today
and I was happy to find there were still z couple of spaces open.
There ended up being about 10 of us around the table with Wilson. He's
a nice guy and everyone had a great time asking questions and tossing
around issues like addressing alien conciousness (or the lack thereof
in "Spin" & "Axis") and how to express the truly alien nature of an
alien mind. He spoke about his 3 influences behind his latest novel,
"Julian Comstock": the Roman emperor Julian the Apostate, the 19th
century children's adventure novels of Oliver Optic, and his desire to
write a funny novel about a person becomming a writer. My regret was
that I couldn't ask a couple of other questions about that book
because no-one else at thd table had read it yet and the questions
would have contained serious spoilers. Speaking of spoilers, while
Wilson mentioned he was working on "Vortex", the third novel in, as
Wilson put it, "The Spin Cycle", and while he said it would tie the
series up answer many questions, he was very, very carful to not drop
any spoilers at all about it (except perhaps for the merest hing that
perhaps the boy from "Axis" may play a role in providing some further
connection or communication or understanding between humans and the
Hypotheticals. All in all, a very enjoyable chat.

Supper was at the authentic Quebec cuisine place Forchette et
Forquette down on the concourse. The food was good but the service was
too slow for most tables (although once the waiter finally came around
to take my order, I certainly couldn't complain about the speed of the
meal - I must have gotten lucky).

Afterwards it was up to the Masquerade. Rorschach made a formal
appearance as an entry on stage. There were also some good entries
from someone dressed ad Amazonian Wonder Woman, a woman dressed as an
operatic performer with a Cylon helmet on, a Klingon version of Batman
(you had to be there, but it was a scream), and a stereotypical
scantilly-clad videogame heroin giving a lecture to game designers
about the need for better armor. The best though, was a pair that came
on as the moon (his head, with a black cloak beneath) and The Great
Pumpkin riding out of the pumpkin patch - at which point the other guy
(moon) opened his cloak to reveal Linus and Charlie Brown and the rest
of the gang sewn to the inside of the cloak. Clever, well constructed
and brilliantly executed. Not sure who won (I bailed when the judges
left to deliberate), and it doesn't much matter, it was just an
entertaining way to spend an evening.

When the Masquerade wrapped up, most of the crowd adjourned to the
rooftop. A big moon was hovering near an old art deco skyscraper and
there was an absolutely stunning fireworks display put on for half an
hour by the South African team (for the city's fireworks competition -
and during the big Francofolies annual celebration). With all the SF
movie soundtracks playing over the radio to accompny thd display, many
in the con crowd wondered if the music had been chosen with the
knowledge that WorldCon was taking place. Unlikely. Great show though.

Now it's off to bed.

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Rorschach at WorldCon

A Word of Explanation about the Steam Automaton

The "Faux Giant Steam Robot" from the photos in the previous post was
made for Season 2 of the "Murdoch Mysteries". MM is a Canadian-
produced cop show set in Toronto during the Victorian era and is based
on a series of novels by Maureen Jennings.

My wife's a fan of the show, but while I've seen the odd episode, I'm
kind of indifferent to it. The lead actor always looks like he's
wearing too much eye makeup.

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more of the Steampunk 'Bot

Giant Steam Robot at WorldCon!

WorldCon - Day 2

Slept late again - it's not because I'm getting a lot of sleep, rather
because I'm up waaaay too late at night calling home to talk with my
wife and then posting the day's highlights (which is also why I don't
go to parties).

Anyhow, I lunched on a succulent smoked meat sandwich at the world-
famous Schwartz's Deli. Everything you've heard about this place is
true... it's certainly the best pastrami I've ever had. A little
mustard and some serviceable bread and it was complete. Nice and
simple and allowing the focus to stay on the meat. I was a happy boy.

Back down to the convention centre. There were a couple of good
costumes out and about today: a Rebel ship crewman and a Stormtrooper;
a steampunk fan decked out in Victorian long coat, top hat and brass
goggles; and best of all, Miss Piggy from the Muppets' "Pigs iiiiiiin

For my first session of the day: Steampunk! During the discussion of
what makes this sub-genre appealing, there were the usual comments
about aesthetics and a sense of modern kinship with an bygone culture
grappling with technological & social upheaval. But most
interestingly, some of the panelists suggested that in our age where
our technology is small, sleek and prefabricated to the point where
owners can't tinker with the products they buy (like the iPhone I'm
typing this on) there's a growing interest in Victorian craftsmanship
(even manufactured items) that could be easily customized by an
individual at home. Then there was the other panelist sho summed it up
quite simply: novelty - Steampunk offers a story remarkably different
from the same-old-same-old science fiction and fantasy fare.

From there it was on to: Are We Conscious and Does It Matter?
Interesting discussion on par with university-level metaphysics
courses. What took away from my enjoyment of the panel was the twitchy
kid who came into the room half-way through the session and literally
within 2 minutes was waving his hand in the air virtually exploding
with the need to be acknowledged so he could abuse the soap box. How
the hell can someone have the gall to be hopping up and down itching
to weigh-in when he hadn't even heard enough of the discussion to have
enough perspective on the particular topic at hand to make a relevant
comment? Sure enough, when the moderator finally acknowledged Mr
Twitchy, he proceeded to babble for 5-10 minutes and it took a serious
effort to cut him off so that others - especially the panelists -
would have a chance to speak again. What's worse, what he thought was
so profound that he felt the need to inflict it on us was trivial and
boring. He then spent the rest of the session waving his arm
desperately trying to get acknowledged again. Luckily, the moderator
didn't make that mistake again.

When that was over, it was back to the hotel to get changed for the
Aurora Awards banquet. The registration desk for the event wasn't very
efficient, but once the banquet was underway, it went very smoothly
(except for one of the awards presenters making a crack about the
Battle of the Plains of Abraham - no so smart when more than a few
attendees are Francophone and the event's being held in Quebec).

After that, it was on to a session talking about the One Season
Wonders of SF TV. The panel was unremarkable, but some of the audience
members had notable things to say. One in particular pointed out that
a good show doesn't necessarily have to be around for multiple seasons
- short and punchy can be very effective. Sure we would have liked
Firefly to continue, but even though it was cancelled, it was smart
and had enough of an impact to inspire a very strong fan base which
provided impetus for a movie and comics.

Next was a session on the Vikings. I'll give the audience a lot of
credit: George RR Martin was supposed to be a panelist but withdrew,
and when this was announced at the beginning, everyone stayed. They
were there for the norsemen, not the author.

I wrapped things up with the Tales of Super Science session. You can't
go wrong with a gaggle of scientists sitting around swapping funny
stories about things going wrong in the lab & test field.

On the way out I stuck my head in the dance hall... Earlier in the
evening, there'd been a little over a dozen people tub-thumping to
Chumbawumba, but it was nearly deserted by 11.

I ended up walking back to the hotel with one of the panelists from
the Vikings session and had an interesting chat about cons in
different parts of the country, and about how the Canadian writers'
society keeps SF and children's literature firmly in the ghetto when
dealing with it's members.

Must sleep now to be able to get through tomorrow.

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Friday, August 07, 2009

WorldCon - Aurora Award Roundup

In case you missed my as-it-happens tweets of the Aurora Awards
results from earlier thus evening, here's a recap:

Award for Fan Achievement - Fanzine: The Original Universe

Artistic Achievement Award: Lar Desouza

Award for Best Work in French - Other: Solaris magazine

Award for Best Work in English - Other: Neo Opsis magazine

Award for Fan Achievement - Organizational: Randy McCharled for the
World Fantasy Convention

Award for Bedt Short Form Work in English : Randy McCharles for
"Ringing in the Changes in Okotoks, Alberta"

Award for Best Short Form Work in French: Jean-Louis Trudel (missed
the story title because it went by too quickly en francais)

Award for Fan Achievement - Other: Joan Sherman for the Heather Dale

Award for Best Long Form Work in French: Michele Laframboise for Les
Vents du Tamerlane

Award for Best Long Form Work in English (presented by Ed The Sock!):
Edward Willett for Marseguro

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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.

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

WorldCon - Day 1 - The Early Report

Woke up way too early this morning. Way too early was just after 9 -
early 'cause I didn't get to sleep until 3am. I don't sleep well when
I travel. Got downstairs & couldn't get a meal at the Hyatt's
restaurant (breakfast: 6:30-10:30, lunch: 11:30-whenever - doesn't do
me much good at 11. What hotel restaurant stops serving for an
hour?!). The Food Gods must be telling me to get out and explore the
local cuisine scene.

Moseyed down to the convention centre (just 2 minutes down the street -
which is great because my leg is in rough shape after my cat went all
Kzin a couple of days ago). Nice building, lots of places to eat on
the ground floor. Went upstairs to register. Had a nagging feeling I'd
forgotten something.

Ah, the con! Fans of every type from every place you can imagine. Not
too many sporting costumes (yet), but lots of folks wearing T-shirts
from their favourite shows/movies/whatever like they're generals
flying their standards as they march towards a battlefield.

Registration was very quick and easy. Saw George RR Martin checking in
while I was heading to the reg line. I put a pin beside my name on the
voodoo board (not that anyone gives a hoot that I'm here) and decided
to get the lay of the land.

The Dealers' Room and Art Fair are still in chaos - typical opening
day. Some booths are already set up and selling, others figuring out
what goes where, one or two waiting at the mercy of late courier
companies, and the usual no-shows. Even though there isn't much
displayed yet, I've had to fight temptation: saw one joint selling
nice little 1-inch Galactica (new version, of course) models as pins,
a couple of books - including the new installment of the Tesseracts
anthology series, and a Ghostbusters hockey jersey. Must...
maintain... resolve... not... to... impulse... buy... right... away.
That being said, if I see any Big Trouble In Little China merchandise,
my self control will collapse immediately. Chatted for a bit with an
author hawking her books at one of the publishers' stands... I always
feel guilty in situations like this where the author is nice and we
have a good conversation but their book holds no interest for me at
all and I have no intention of buying. I feel so cheap begging-off
with "Let me think about it." Wandered off then to look at other stuff.

Then I remembered what I'd forgotten: a stack of bookmarks from White
Dwarf Books back in Vancouver. I'd promised Jill & Walter I'd put some
out in the brochures area for them (sure it's on the other side of the
country, but it's a well-respected specialty store, and this con
surely demonstrates that geeks will travel to follow their passions).
So, back up the street to the hotel. Snagged the WD bookmarks to put
out, and my copy of "A Game of Thrones" in case I run into Martin
again (sure the huge hardcover is heavy, but it'll be worth it if I
can get an autograph). Back down to the Palais de Congres. WD
bookmarks now in the brochure area. Jill & Walter: I'm as good as my

Grabbed a quick sandwich for lunch.

Now to reread the schedule and figure out what to take part in this

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Twas the Night Before WorldCon

It's 2:30am and I've just caught the end of "Rodan".

This afternoon & evening was spent flying from Vancouver to Montreal.
Good flight with an aisle seat & an empty seat beside me - chit-
chatted for a while with a nice lady from just outside Montreal who
was in the window seat. Also read a bunch of short stories that will
need to be added to the 365 short story challenge tally later.

Arrived in La Belle Province and found myself in a cab with a driver
who spoke no English (serving a major international airport no less!
Ah, official bilingualism!). Luckily, I still remember enough high
school French to get by if needs be. Luckier still, my high school
French wasn't as bad as The Tick's when he was transformed into a two-
headed blue bird!

Got to the hotel and saw some fellow geeks hanging around out front.
The clerk at the front desk confirmed that a large number of WorldCon
attendees had checked-in this evening (not to be confused with the
mammary specialist convention the hotel is currently hosting).

Must get some sleep now. Tomorrow: let the Con begin!

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Anticipating WorldCon

Wednesday is the big day... I'm leaving work at noon to catch a mid-afternoon flight to Montreal for WorldCon.

The plan is to post a full summary of each day's adventures here. I'll apologize in advance for weird formatting and paragraph breaks that may not make much sense - my iPhone is pretty handy for blogging on the fly, but the paragraph formating I see on the phone's screen isn't always what shows up here once I hit send. Oh well, it's the content that counts. Sort of.

From time to time, I may post a photo or two. (I'll try to upload good photos off the camera when I can, but failing that I may post the odd shot of less-than-perfect quality from my phone's camera if I run into something cool that I want to send right away).

For quick, as-it-happens highlights (including updates from the Aurora and Hugo ceremonies), I'll be tweeting from whatever events I'm at throughout each day, so be sure to follow me on Twitter as well.