This, as far I'm concerned, pretty much set the pattern for the whole con. As Neil said on his own blog, Fantasycon reminded us both a whole lot of WFC -- which is a very, very good thing. There were a lot of other writers and editors there, and a light programming thread which means you spend a lot of time just socialising, talking about writing and mad schemes. That's not to be stand-offish about readers, mind. It was great to meet up with Paul and Sam, for instance. The thing is, I think, the different proportional mix actually breaks down the whole Author / Fan dichotomy you can get in other cons. You don't feel self-conscious about talking writing in mixed company, when you can assume half the people there are also in the business... rather than you being the Author (or one of a few Authors) holding court. So it ends up like a pub session with mates who know you as the drunken dipshit whose been doing that wacky writing stuff for so long its dull. The other aspect that reminded me of WFC was the preponderance and vitality of the indie press scene. The one panel I managed to get to, on the Saturday, was an indie vs mainstream editing panel. Turned out to be more general than I hoped -- I thought it sounded neat to focus on the editing aspect rather than just the usual wide view -- but it was still very cool. Anyway, I really hope Fantasycon can build on these aspects, really make itself the British version of WFC.
So who was I hanging with? I'm sure I'll forget people if I try to list everyone I met, so I'll just throw in names, as and when I recall, and don't be offended if I miss ye out. I do remember much of the Friday was spent chatting to Debbie Miller and French publisher dudes, Stephane Marsan and Alain Nevant. The conversation was easily interesting enough that I managed to not get anything to eat on the Friday night. Ended up sitting into the wee hours with Jetse de Vries, the two of us finally toddling off after finishing my hip flask of absinthe, last out of the bar, at 4:30 in the morning or thereabouts.
Saturday, I made it up, surprisingly, before midday. A few Bloody Marys settled any hangover issues and I was quickly ensconced in a comfy couch. Managed a quick trip to the dealer's room to pick up Richard Calder's BABYLON, Jeff Ford's "Cosmology of the Wider World", that bastard Neil Gaiman's ANANSI BOYS (he's very nice I'm sure, but I'm a bitter man, a bitter man, I tell you) and Graham Joyce's THE LIMITS OF ENCHANTMENT (which came with author dedication and good-natured banter over which book should win the WFC; it's sheer greed in Joyce's case, you know, to want that trophy; he's got plenty to go around, the selfish, selfish man). Spent a good while talking to Mark Newton of Solaris Books, had a brief chat with Ian Watson, both cool guys, and... and this is the point where I lose track of who all I was talking to and offend people by missing them out. Oh well.
At some point in the evening Neil, Mike and meself headed out for curry and, after a wee wander trying to find a place that wasn't full, we ended up in a stunning Thai place. The soup was to die for, to kill for, to rape, maim and mutilate for. Unfortunately the copious consumption of red wine rather rendered me about seven sheets to the wind and counting, and carrying on with red wine upon return to the con didn't help none. So while I remember talking away to Sean Wright, it's all a bit blurry and slurry. Shockingly, outrageously -- and I can offer no excuse here -- I actually headed off back to the room BEFORE THE BAR CLOSED. This deeply concerns me, and I have made an oath unto myself that IT WILL NOT HAPPEN AGAIN.
I will not stand for it.
I crawled out of bed on the Sunday a good while after midday, cursing the temporal limitations of hotel check-out but discovering to my joy that the Britannia had allowed for the laziness of wasters such as me and extended check-out, bless them. So, dumping my stuff with Mike, I staggered into the banquet just in time for the main course (sitting beside Paul and Sam, and the charming Ian Whates), picked at the chicken, scoffed the chocolate cake and settled in with me red wine for the speeches and awards ceremony -- all of which was very life-affirming, with much tribute paid to those who've gone before. As for the awards, congratulations to those who won. It was great, btw, to see American-based writers like Joe Hill actually there to pick up their awards -- another thing that really made it feel like a good con, with a real sense of community. And commiserations to the rest who, like me, were nominated but lost (lost, damn you, lost! and to that bastard Gaiman who eats puppies for breakfast, so I hear). I managed to scavenge spare wine from an abandoned table to drown my bitter sorrows, before being dragged away, sobbing and cursing, by Neil and Mike for the drive back to Glasgow.
Well, OK, so I wasn't actually sobbing and cursing, on account of I knew I didn't have a hope in hell, and Mr Gaiman actually seems like a very nice chap rather than a bastard ("seems like", I say, "seems like"; he's probably evil on the inside... perhaps not as evil as that Graham Joyce character, but evil nonetheless). Anyhoo, yeah, a whale of a time was had, and Fantasycon will definitely be on my calendar for next year.