What an experience. Upwards of eight thousand people in London's Excel Centre (out beyond Docklands) experiencing SFF overload for five days with panels, costumes, exhibits and retail therapy. Famous names and infamous ones. And a lot of people having fun.
Excel is cavernous and impersonal but the Con Committee had done their best to humanise the Fan Village with gazebos and designated areas for kids, quiet reading, bar, enquiries, societies and all the con bids for future years - most of them offering freebies, food, drink and parties to swing the vote their way.
There was also plenty of extra seating space on the concourse, a kind of elongated food court that was also the through way from Excel East to Excel West - a half-mile hike which felt twice that long. Excel is so huge you can catch a DLR train from one end to the other. I walked my feet off.
The programme was great and I did see some panels, but not as many as I had marked in my book. Sadly some were oversubscribed and the security crew (hired in by Excel) were hot on kicking out anyone who hadn't got a chair - in some cases interrupting panely that had already started with little in the way of tact. Some panels didn't quite end up being what they were supposed to be (the post colonialism one missed its mark by not extrapolating into the future, or talking in general terms about how to write post colonialism, and seemed to take an hour to tell us which current countries were post-colonial), but some were excellent. Full marks to the one on swearing in SF. Great laugh! I did three panerls and no one threw rotten tomatoes, so they seemed to go down well.
Lovely to meet Ann Leckie at the SFWA reception. I'm delighted Ancilliary Justice got the Hugo. Well deserved.
There were lots of Milford people there, regulars and new ones, and a gathering of people I knew from the usenet newsgroup, r.a.sf.c (rec.arts.science fiction.composition) consisting of people I'd met before and some I knew only from the net from as far afield as Germany, France, the USA and Alaska (yes, I know that's the USA as well!). Great to be goven a signed copy of Bill Swears' book Zook Country. Thanks, Bill.
I got whisked off to dinner twice by my editor, Sheila Gilbert, once to a small gathering and once to the official DAW dinner with Sheila and Betsy plus Seanan McGuire, Michelle Sagara West, Tanya Huff, Fiona Patton, Kari Sperring, Ben Aaronovitch, various partners and DAW's British agent. A delightful gathering at the Gun, a historic riverside pub in the Docklands area with a private dining room on the riverside opposite the Dome. Highly recommended.