(because there's a lot and I am trying to keep these damn posts short)
SFX 2012 — absolutely the best yet — as a convention they have been getting bigger and better since the first in 2010, and I was very happy to see that as well as the film & TV slots (1), the relatively small number of literary slots from previous events have been considerably expanded this year — and also that the audiences were there for those panels, with the larger spaces in Prestatyn being filled for book-related events.
(1) Interestingly, the schedule has never touched much on games, which surprises me given how much of an impact they have in the genre. Maybe that's yet to come.
And for once, while derailments and inclement weather between them seemed to have it in for anyone travelling anywhere over that weekend, coming from Leeds turned out to be an actual advantage. God's wrath was restricted to parts south.
I am vastly grateful to the staff at Tor, who really do look after their authors very well. The promised "cottage" was a failed-restaurant-turned-guest-house large enough that I was still getting lost there on the Sunday morning (2). My having a room to myself rather thank bunking up (3) with Mark Newton was more a testament to the size of the place than my standing as an author, I suspect, but probably to the considerable relief of Mark at any rate.
(2) Although with my sense of direction this wasn't actually much of a thing
(3) Originally: "Shacking up". Absolutely wrong choice of words.
My panel, "Elf Preservation", ably chaired by Jared from Pornokitsch, was good fun and well attended, but got stuck on the "fantasy races yea or nay" rather than the "magic yea or nay", so I never did get my Peake on as I had intended. Interesting debate, though, with Joe Abercrombie, Juliet E. McKenna, Graham McNeill and Gav Thorpe. In general a split over fantasy races (notably Joe more anti than pro but pondering writing a story with a Shanker main character, which sounds interesting). Scorn on the derivative, plaudits for the innovative, Juliet and I both bemoaning that people will slap the elf/dwarf/etc label on races that really aren't, and my noting that Games Workshop (for whom Graham and Gav have both written) have essentially reclaimed the orc(/k) so that theirs is now the gold standard that other people tend to take off (4).
(4) Not sure gold is the right word for orcs, but there we go.
Interesting history panel later talking about writing and research (and how it takes over your life) — including Pat Kelleher on WWI, Adam Christopher on the prohibition, Maria Dahvana Headley on Ancient Egypt and Paul Cornell on delving into London for his upcoming "Cops and Monsters". Paul was then rushed to the main stage for one of the absolute highlights — a genre-based "Just a Minute" that he was chairing, which was won by Joe "gift of the gab" Abercrombie against varyingly determined resistance from China Mieville, Sarah Pinborough and Toby Whithouse.
Friday night kicked off with Pornokitsch.com's "Kitschies" awards. Now, I have issues here. The website name and the award name and the, er, fact that they're giving away rather beautiful plush tentacles as prizes prepares you for something that's going to be tongue-in-cheek and a bit of a joke, but these were very serious awards being given out on the basis of real innovative contributions to the genre. Find the winners, and more info on the awards and the site in general, here.
Party at Tor place Friday night, very well stocked with Kraken rum, which was sponsoring the Kitschies. Memory of precise details of much of the later evening somewhat vague and rum-sodden.