Essentially my second Big Big Con, the first being SFX Weekender 1 last year. I am still in awe of Tor’s continued hospitality, in putting its writer contingent (1) up in a very civilized little cottage by the sea (2). Official duties came down to a mass Tor signing for which the Forbidden Planet people had to entirely remodel their stand to fit us all in, and a good fun panel on classics of the genre, at which I got a very interesting audience reaction when I fielded a question on whether we would count Twilight as a classic because of it’s (undeniable) huge influence at the moment. I came back with, basically, “come back in 10 years and we’ll see if it’s still exerting influence,” and a block of people stage right didn’t like that at all. I’d thought it was a creditably open and neutral comment, along the lines of some books can be unjustly forgotten, none are unjustly remembered, sort of thing, but even now I’m not sure whether they were Twilight fans aggrieved that the answer wasn’t an automatic ‘yes’ or anti-Twilight protesters outraged at the very possibility that Meyer’s series might have longevity. I guess I’ll find out in 10 years.

I got to exchange backslappery with Jon Courtnay Grimwood, whose work I love and who has read some of mine as well, and got to meet John Gwynne as well, a new fantasy signing from Tor whose work should be on the shelves some time next year I’d guess. I got the crap scared out of me by the floor show before the SFX awards ceremony (3) and ended up playing Apples to Apples with Paul Cornell. These last two things are not related.

Of my good intentions, where I was going to sneak off to work on the first draft of the Air War (which is nearing its completion but needs a lot of retconning), let’s just say that didn’t go according to plan. In fact I’ll go so far as to say none of that actually got done at all save for a single paragraph. I kid you not, the entire Tor contingent decided to go for a walk on the beach in gale force winds and intermittent rain, and I said, no, I shall be sensible and decadent and stay indoors, and get that writing done so I can feel terribly good about myself. The result: half of them are back in five minutes because it was a bit parky out.

(1) I am shameless enough and indeed fanboy enough to name drop: China Mieville, Peter F Hamilton, Mark Charan Newton, Gary Gibson, Paul Cornell. And me. I am told that in olden days the writer scene was far more cliquey and frosty to a newcomer, but as a new writer (4) in that company (and indeed in the company of the convention generally) the atmosphere was instantly welcoming. I even got a lift most of the way home with Peter Hamilton in his Car Of The Future. (5)

(2) The sea, mind you, was not civilized. Nor was the weather.

(3) It was not the girls with the LED bikinis. As a professional writer one takes such things in one’s stride. I’m somewhat at a loss to say what it was, to be honest. They had what I think were stiltwalking guys in enormous robot suits, all picked out with LEDs against pitch black, and thundering about in time to some very heavy bass, and something to do with the sound of it, and the sight of these huge things charging around set off a weird fight-or-flight thing in me. Baffling.

(4) Published 2008, and still a new writer. I’m not sure when I should stop feeling like the FNG. Going to be a while I suspect.

(5) One of the perks of writing SF I suppose.

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