Monday, April 9, 2012

21 Things I Learned at Eastercon

1 . Eastercon is not always a fall-on-the-floor drinkfest. Even I could keep up, and I’m the sort of drinker whose Virginia parents have to apologize for his sobriety at social events.

2. I don’t have to be drunk to make a fool of myself. Farah Mendlesohn and Faren Miller are two different people.

3. The SF/fantasy community is an amazingly cool place to call home. I rediscover this, and learn it more deeply, with every con. The fact that I stomp around the house and throw open the windows and occasionally sneak out after hours changes nothing.

4. Everyone is human. Stephen Deas remains human, despite his superhuman prolificity. Adam Roberts turned out to be human, albeit with cyborg cleverness implants. Jo Fletcher is human. George R.R. Martin is human. The unblinking silver statue of a Victorian lady on the divan on the staircase turned out to be human. Even the (currently) most notorious writer at the Con turned out to be human, and spoke the word “sorry” with feeling into at least one appropriate ear. Also, Sauron never existed, and the death of Lucifer was a tragedy for the imagination.

5. I will never, ever be able to love a city as I do London. When you move to the first city in your life at age 21, something happens that will never happen again.

6. Boskone 2010 was not destined to be the whitest con I ever attended. This Eastercon was whiter than Sunday School in Burlington, Vermont. Well, okay, Brattleboro.  Still, what's up with that? It's more than odd that certain small-town U.S. cons I've attended were more diverse than this one. I mean, I'm typing this near Paddington Station, within five miles of ten million people of every color, I mean colour, on earth. Somebody let me in on the joke.

7. I should have spent part of the last few years reading Tricia Sullivan.

8. Excellent food really can be had in an English pub, provided it’s called the Pheasant and located near Heathrow.

9. You must never assume you can afford to buy fruit at Eastercon (£1.80 per banana).

10. Paul Cornell really is Elya Baskin’s stunt double.

11. Gillian Redfearn and I both remain hopelessly smitten by Joshua Ritter, after he hugged us in Brooklyn.

12. The owners of my publishing house make weapons, including the Exocet missiles that sank the ARA General Belgrano, Argentina’s greatest warship, during the Falklands/Malvinas war. Are we happy about this? No, we are not.

13. Few cheers erupt when you talk about Gabriel Gárcia Márquez on a genre panel.

14. The tradition of name tags with only first names, or silly pseudonyms, stems in part from a history of bias against genre: people didn’t want to be “outed” at the con.

15. Those of us published in English sound like absolute blue-veined weanies if we complain in front of those who write and/or publish in other languages. Also, to paraphrase Lavie Tihar: “The simple solution [to being denied the pleasure of reading SF written in languages other than English] is to learn those languages.” Why didn’t I think of that?

16. No matter how hard I work to be earnest, literary, dreary and dull, Joe Abercrombie can find a way to make it funny. Damn him.

17. There is no reason ever to eat Indian food in U.S. restaurants, if the prospect of one more visit to the U.K. remains.

18. I do not like Mushy Peas. It is still hard to believe that “mushy” is a state anyone could aspire to inflict on peas.

19. After dark, it is possible to read by Stephen J. Sweeney’s smile.

20. I can’t believe in the boxes. I don't mind or disdain them. I just don't believe the evidence of my senses. They're not real.  I’ve tried, honestly I have. But it's no use: I don’t care what’s slipstream, what’s weird (or Weird), what’s fuel-cell or solar-hydrogen vapor-punk, what’s urban or suburban or semirural fantasy. I lift an imaginary box and study it, sniff it, turn it around and squint at the labels. Before I can read them they all fade to black.  

21. I open the boxes with the breathing holes. You know: the ones with life inside.  I love living things, beating hearts, dreaming minds, passions, sex, flight, humour, memory, madness, emancipation from madness, sympathy, the leap of understanding, the human spark in the alien eye, the alien terror of a brother’s eye, the awful knowledge, the knowing laughter, the whimsey, the wonder, the hope. That’s my genre. That’s why I write.


Stephen Deas said...

Actually I am a story-making machine from the future fuelled by coffee and ice-cream ;-)

Robert V.S. Redick said...

Ah, so you're out of the closet. That's better.

Jobeda said...

Thanks for sharing your reflections - not only is this a pleasure to read but also helps me to work out what happened to me at this very first con I ever might not be hyperbole to say it was transformative. Still, shame about number 13. I could roll up and die happy in GGM's words.

RVSR said...

Awesome to meet you, Jobeda! Heading home soon, but stay in touch.

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