Well, that was the best con I've been to in ages - sort of the sneaky lovechild of SFX and EasterCon, with the best traits of both. It had the multi-media focus and enthusiastic fans of the former, plus the in-depth programming of the latter. Plus smoothly organised, charming and... well, fun. Bonus points go to the Red Wedding cosplayers, everyone in the indie gaming room, a literary stream that ran like clockwork, whatever workshop it was that was churning out steampunk weaponry and the Bronies (next year's goal: learn more about what that was about, because they were having way too much fun).
My only quibbles are with myself: I didn't pay enough attention to the scheduling, so my time there was mostly spent going "wait, I how did I miss that? And that?!".
Huge kudos to all the organisers for making this work, and I can't wait until next year, where we will be taking a hotel room for the weekend, bringing far more costume options and living life to its geeky fullest.
(In fairness, I was wearing Wampa shoes. I'm proud of that.)
Also, thanks to everyone that was in / on / around our panels. I think the Heroes vs. Villains debate was the best panel I've seen in years (if not ever), and apparently the various cheers and hoots interrupted the Doctor Who programming next door (take THAT, Whovians!). Other notes from the day's panel include: "Kate Griffin should be on everything", "Never argue against Adrian Tchaikovsky when death is on the line", "Zen Cho loves to champion the underdog" and, please god, next year have Stan Nicholls lined up for a SF vs Fantasy debate, because he was great on that topic.
Also, being a con? I bought the hell out of everything. Loot update!
David Tallerman and Bob Molesworth's Endangered Weapon B. Inscribed "The only copy in the world" - it was certainly the only copy at Nine Worlds, which is a big "red flag to bull" for me. Plus, steampunk squiddy cover, a J for Jetpack blurb and out from Markosia. So, bring it on. (Nine Worlds)
Susanna Clarke's The Ladies of Grace Adieu. A proof for the US edition. Is it embarrassing that I've never read this, given how much I admire Jonathan Strange? Probably. (Nine Worlds)
Thomas Harris' Red Dragon. Maybe my favourite of his books? I mean, there's this, Silence of the Lambs and "every other thing he wrote", so I guess it is a two horse race. This is the UK first, which should be worth more than it is (but isn't). Someone once told me that pretty much every Harris signature is faked. A combination of a) his reclusive nature and b) his meteoric fame. Unless there's some sort of provenance, don't trust it... (I've got a "signed" paperback of Red Dragon around, I'm dubious, but it comes with an official "signed by the author" sticker from a bookstore near his Florida home. I'm still dubious.) (Nine Worlds)
Amy McCulloch's The Oathbreaker's Shadow. I'm the last person to get this, right? But I missed the London launch (apparently the event of 2012), and was waiting to get a signed copy. The stars aligned and I had a panel with Ms. McCulloch and the Forbidden Planet stall had copies with them. MINE. SIGNED TO ME. YOU CAN'T HAVE IT. (Nine Worlds)
Lavie Tidhar's An Occuptation of Angels. The UK printing (I've got the US version - from Apex - but the UK edition predates it by several years and is apparently pretty damn rare). Pretty Ben Baldwin cover, Liz Williams intro, great story. As soon as I get one copy of everything, I will commence the ritual to steal Lavie's soul. MWAHAHAHAHAHA. (Nine Worlds)
Robert E. Howard's Pigeons from Hell. Sadly, that's not a Conan story. "To crush your enemies and hear the lamentation of their pigeons". Nor, actually, a particularly good Howard story. Still, I like the Zebra editions and Glenn Lord does good (the best?) Howard intros. Also, the cover features a pterodactyl swooping in for an ill-advised fight with a T-Rex. (Nine Worlds)
Den Patrick's Orcs: War Fighting Manual. Huzzah! Den's first book is out, and it looks fantastic - with cracking art from Andrew James accompanying Den's grumpy/funny Orcish prose. So glad to have snaffled a copy so early - it looks great. (Nine Worlds)
A few other acquisitions:
Life Begins at 40. The Canongate anniversary anthology. I read the free ebook and loved it (come on: short-short fiction from Patrick Ness, Matt Haig, Phillip Pullman, etc, and some goofy sketches from, amongst others, Margaret Atwood). Canongate did a competition to give away 40 copies of the paperback, and, hey! I won one. Plus, Tom Gauld artwork! (Canongate)
J.M. McDermott's Never Knew Another. I never weighed in on the Night Shade thing because, well, I never really knew enough. And Never Knew Another is a perfect example of what went right/wrong. This is simply one of the best fantasy debuts I've ever read and exactly the sort of ballsy punt of an idea that Night Shade specialised in finding and publishing. Yet the way the series was handled, and I think McDermott is pretty open about this, effectively ended his career. (Summary: it doesn't matter how great your book is or what the circumstances are surrounding its publisher, if the sales figures against your name are "eep!", you're in trouble. At least, under that name... Terrifying. Absolutely terrifying.) ANYWAY, I've got a digital, but I was delighted to find a paperback at Forbidden Planet. The sort of book that everyone should buy, and everyone should buy it new and through a bookseller. Give it some love. (Forbidden Planet)
James Lovegrove's Days. I've been enjoying Mr. Lovegrove's backlist as I prep for the interview on September 5, and this is a corker. As far as SF "prescience" goes, Days bats about .500. On one hand, a future of physical "giga-stores" seems increasingly improbable and a lot of the detail of the setting is therefore already out of date. On the other, the themes, characters and plots are terrifyingly reflective of our, er, Amazonian times. A great one in the vein of Maul, Market Forces and The Mall. (Abebooks)