Big By Half Worldcon Report
Yes this is late, almost redundant by now, but as I understand it some of you crazy people actually look forward to reading this tediously detailed and overly long report of mine. Someone, naming no names (cough, Sophelia, cough), actually said that “nearly as many people look forward to this report as those looking forward to ADWD.” Erm, well I don’t know about that but let’s hope I can avoid a “Montrealesse” knot and actually get the report finished this year....
Photographs to accompany this report can be found at MG’s BWB Photo Gallery.
This report aims to not only be a thorough and complete review of everything that took place during Worldcon 2009 including details blatantly stolen from other boarder’s posts, but also a personal account of what took place prior to the Con in New York City and after the Con in Niagara Falls and Toronto. If you want to skip to a part of this enormous bloody report that you are actually interested in you can use CTRL+click on one of these handy little jumplink thingies below to take you there.
− Table of Contents −
Pre-Con: New York City 4
Monday 3 August 2009 4
The Comedy Cellar 5
Tuesday 4 August 2009 6
BWB NYC Meet up @ The Gingerman 8
Wednesday 5 August 2009 10
Party Train – Woot! 10
Arrival in Montreal 12
Worldcon 2009: Montreal 15
Thursday 6 August 2009 15
The Werewolves of Brigadoon 16
Human Battleships 17
Question Time with Neil Gaiman 17
Lunch at Les 3 Brassuers (The 3 Brewers) 18
The Life and Work of John M. Ford 19
Dinner at Pizzadelic 19
Thursday night parties 20
Friday 7 August 2009 21
Intellectual Property and Creative Commons 21
WSFS Business Meeting 23
I for one welcome our new Zombie Overlords 24
New Media 24
Writing Excuses – Live Podcast 25
Reading: Paedar Ó Guilín 26
Preparing to write a Series 27
Signing: Neil Gaiman 27
Live Mafia 27
Melissa Auf der Maur – Out Of Our Minds 29
Coraline – screening introduced by Neil Gaiman 32
Friday night parties 33
Saturday 8 August 2009 34
Neil’s Photographer Photographs You 34
Archetypes without Stereotypes 35
Fantasy = Realism? 36
We Are The Knights Who Say F***! 36
Reading: Neil Gaiman 40
The Enslaved of Paedar Ó Guilín 41
Party Setup 42
Dinner – Limecat’s beef gingerman 42
Brotherhood Without Banners Party 43
The BWB Charity Prize Draw Raffle 45
EHK Tribute 47
The Quest 47
Lords and Ladies 48
Les Chevalier de Poutine 49
Worshipping Toe-ny 50
Sunday 9 August 2009 51
Party clear-up 51
Reading: Daniel Duguay and Mary Robinette Kowal 51
Writing for a Living 53
Lunch with George and Parris 57
Private Passions: The Many Interests of Neil Gaiman 58
Reading: David Levine – Wild Cards 59
Signing: George R.R. Martin 60
Dinner – Chinese again! 60
Schwanking at the Metal Bar 61
The Hugo Awards Ceremony 61
The Hugo Winners and Losers Parties 70
Monday 10 August 2009 72
World without the Internets – Oh Noes! 73
Paedar’s Children’s Writing Workshop 73
Blue has a coffee with George and shows off her scrapbook 73
Reading: Patrick Rothfuss 74
Cultural Memory – aka The Blair Witch Panel 76
Signing: Neil Gaiman 77
Dealer Room Bargains 77
Reading: George R.R. Martin 77
The Flosser! 79
Drinks at the Intercontinental Bar 80
Dinner at Boccacinos 80
The Dead Dog Party 81
Post Con: Niagara Falls and Toronto 83
Tuesday 11 August 2009 83
Lunch at Niagara-on-the-Lake 83
Niagara Falls 84
Niagara’s Fury 85
Wednesday 12 August 2009 87
Journey Behind The Falls 87
Maid of the Mist 88
Race against time to get back to Toronto 89
Mini BWB Meet up in Toronto 90
Thursday 13 August 2009 90
The Hippo Tour of Toronto 91
Goodbye to Pebble 93
Friday 14 August 2009 94
The Dead Sea Scrolls 94
My last Con Contact 96
Pre-Con: New York City
Monday 3 August 2009
My journey started at 9.30 am with a taxi to Basingstoke rail station, a train to Reading then a train to Paddington and a train back out of London to Heathrow Terminal 5 and you know what that means. Yup, I flew British Airways and yes my flight was overbooked. What that means is the system could not book my seat on the plane and I was forced to stand around by the check in desks until the computer decided whether there just might be a spare seat somewhere on board for me.
With the benefit of hindsight what I should have done is checked in via the Internet the night before but for some reason this idea, as convenient as it is, just does not sit well with me. I just don’t get it. How can you check in for something until you are actually physically there in person? This fails to make sense to me. Clearly this is a sign that I am getting old.
So I waited. As a reward for waiting I was given a £3 voucher for the nearby Café Nero. I bought myself a breakfast ciabatta (which I also waited for) and a bottle of water (which I did not need to wait for) and settled down to wait. The waiting for the ciabatta almost caused me to miss the end of my wait for the wait for a seat on the plane. But fortunately the waiting was not in vain and I was awarded with a seat.
Rushing through security control I then had to run, bypassing any opportunity for duty free shopping to make it to my gate on time. I need not have bothered. Six people who had successfully checked in had failed to make it to the gate and so their luggage had to be found and removed from the aircraft before we could leave. More waiting. Everyone waited for another half hour until eventually the plane taxied out to the runway and finally took off.
It was a pleasant flight. I started reading ‘The Scar’ by China Miéville which I greatly enjoyed. The meal was edible. The kind American grandpa next to me even passed me an extra sandwich which his wife in the window seat could not manage. Are you starting to see what I mean by tediously detailed? Are you people still reading? Oh man.
We landed at JFK International and I joined the long line for passport control. Removing my mobile phone [US translation: cellphone] from my bag I switched it on to send a text to Lucky Pierre to let him know I had landed. But despite having a good signal I kept receiving a ‘Text could not be sent’ message. I continued trying all through the wait for passport control and the wait for my baggage. I was straight through customs and heading for the AirTrain service before I tried again. Still no text sent. After failing again at the Subway station while waiting for the train there I decided not to bother trying again.
So you can imagine my surprise when 5 minutes out of the station I receive a text from LP asking if I have landed yet. Not knowing if my reply would work I sent the following message: “yes I have landed but my phone won’t let me text!” which on reflection was not the most sensible thing I could have texted back since it did actually work this time. There was much confusion and amusement had by LP, Dracarys and Ben Iowa waiting for me at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square which is where I was on the way to.
After successfully changing subway lines I made it out and into Times Square and dragged my heavy laden luggage behind me, battling my way through the throngs of tourists gazing upwards at the pretty lights like flightless zombiefied moths. I made it to the hotel and following the instructions LP left on the board I took the elevator to the 8th floor to check in.
Now despite meeting LP the previous year in Denver I actually did not know his real first name. He was either Lucky Pierre, LP or just ‘J’. So when the receptionist asked me the name of the person who had made the reservation I actually could not give it to her. She then said to me with a trace of amusement “do you often stay in hotel rooms with men you don’t know the names of?” “But I do know them,” I protested, “they are my friends.” I don’t think she was convinced but she gave me the keycard anyway. Clearly she thought I was meeting up with a bunch of homosexual men for a big gay orgy in her hotel.
So I turn around to leave and there is Drac striding across the lobby towards me and we have a big man-hug greeting right there and then. Oh what timing.
After quickly dumping my luggage in the room on the 30 something or other floor we return to the 8th floor to find the bar and there sat by the window overlooking Times Square is LP and Ben. More man-hugs, yeah. We have a quick drink and catch up on things. LP has been in NYC a few days, already met up with Zabzy for lunch, been to see ‘Billy Elliot’ on his own and then ‘Hair’ complete with full frontal nudity with Drac. That’s the actors who were naked not Drac. I heard a rumour that Ben had actually had an alcoholic drink, but I am not sure I believe it…..
Ben then left us for a bit, he went to ‘The Strand’, the biggest bookshop in New York City. I like to imagine he fell to his knees and wept openly at the sight of so many beautiful books gathered in one place and available for purchase. Later I asked him – “did you buy any books?” This was the wrong question. The correct question should have been - ‘how many books did you buy?’ The correct answer was six.
With Ben gone, LP, Drac and I went up to the room so that I could change and then we took a Subway ride downtown to find somewhere to have dinner. Knowing that we would be spending the evening at ‘The Comedy Cellar’ we picked ‘The Olive Tree’ restaurant right above it. They have very cool tables made of blackboard slate and even provide chalk so you can doodle while you eat. I had a very nice burger and we scrawled our names on the table to mark our territory.
Now it is getting close to the time when The Comedy Cellar opens. This place was recommended to us by Zabzy and it was Lugajetboygirl who phoned up and booked 5 tickets for us all (that is LP, Drac, Ben, MG and Luga – no Zabzy yet even though I have mentioned her name twice already). So we mention to our waiter that we are going to the club downstairs and since the restaurant and comedy club are essentially the same place, and being a pretty helpful chap, the waiter asks about our booking and offers to go downstairs and collect our tickets for us. Therefore he needs the name we booked under and LP gives Luga’s name, her real name obviously, and while most people reading this will know her real name it is bad form to write that down in a place like this without asking which is why I will always be using board names for everyone mentioned in this report, though of course there are some strange people whose board names are their real names – Tycho I’m looking at you dude!
The waiter upon hearing LP giving a girls name looks at him kinda funny and LP feels the need to explain that he is not Luga. The waiter smiles and says “of course” as he leaves to go get the tickets. At this point two coincidental events occur. One: Luga comes in through the door of The Olive Tree to join us. Two: LP’s phone rings and he goes outside to take the call. So one minute later when the waiter returns with the tickets he finds Luga sat where LP was previously to which he says “Damn, you guys are good. Do you do matinees?”
The Comedy Cellar
Time to head down to the Comedy Cellar, which is the point we are reunited with Ben, who is carrying a large bag of newly purchased books, arriving at just that very moment. We take our seats, get drinks and wait as the place starts to fill up. It is a cosy feeling narrow kind of place with a stage along one side and a row of tables right up against the stage edge with a walkway space behind that to some more tables against the wall. We are sat in a booth towards the left (as we sit) of the stage, the other side of the entrance which is almost opposite the stage and close to the bar which is at the end, though there is a waiter service so that nobody need stand up and block the view.
Our compeer [US translation: emcee] for the night was a comedian named Arty and he was really funny, lots of energy and he really got the crowd into it. Predictably he asked people where they are from and when he asked our group Drac answered and said “Minnesota”, to which Arty said “so this is the first time you’ve ever seen a black man, right.” Arty introduced several comedians who came on and did 10-15 minute sets. Not sure how many guys there were, about 8 or 9 I think and they were all very good. Some famous guys from appearances on US TV including one bitter old fuck whose jokes about how he appeared on ‘Ellen’ turned his career one way and he is now a total failure. Dark humour for sure but it seemed a little too close to the truth for comfort really.
At one point during the evening some guy arrives in the club, apparently a regular of the club that Arty knows and he says “Hey Greg, is this your date for the night? Wow. Is this your first date? And you brought her here? To a place where you can get free entrance? See honey he is a cheap mother fucker you know what I am saying. Don’t expect to much from him see. So how is the date going so far Greg?” They both laughed their asses off and had a great time as did everyone else.
One very memorable guy did a piece about how some girls like to say hello by giving their friends a “chest-bump”. To which he said, “What the fuck? Guys don’t go around doing things like that. Or perhaps we should. Perhaps I should take my trousers down and dick slap this entire front row in the face.”
As you might expect there was a lot of material about race during the night. One of the last acts of the evening got on stage and asked the crowd “Hey where are all my black homies at”. Total silence. The entire crowd is white. “Oh shit, it’s like that is it!” Later on he said, “Is Arty doing alright, give it up for Arty.” The only person in the club who cheered was LP. “Ah there you go, just one gay dude.”
At about 11 pm the gig is over for us. They offer to let people stay for the second set which runs later into the night at a reduced price but they cut us off at the bar and LP is not happy about this so we leave. I was feeling pretty jetlagged by this point and most of the others are getting tired so we head for the subway station. However LP decides he is not done and we leave him in The Village. Luga goes back to her hotel and Drac, Ben and I return to the Marriot Marquis and go to bed.
LP accidentally wakes me up a little after 4 am when he gets back to the hotel room after doing whatever it was that he had been doing with Enrique. Ahem.