Worldcon: Loncon 3 Debrief

The calm before the storm - Thursday afternoon at Loncon3, by Peter Morrison (Click here for more of Peter's Loncon3 Photoset).
The calm before the storm – Thursday afternoon in the Fan Village at Loncon3. Photo by Peter Morrison.
So to the inevitable con dissection post; a bit of a late one, I’m afraid. Coming straight out of Worldcon into a ten day bout of horrendous Con Flu (and the innevitable deadline catch-up afterwards) left me feeling like that guy who did the London Marathon in a 19th century diving suit: I got there in the end, but the crowds have long since departed, and I can’t quite hear out my right ear yet. Still I have to admit, the epic scale of this con’s aftermath is only in proportion to how wonderful a time I had there.


The wonderful Melinda Snodgrass, and a very smug-looking me.
The wonderful Melinda Snodgrass, and a very smug-looking me.

Let’s start with the panels – ‘Massively Multiplayer: The Music of Genre Video-Games‘ and ‘Worldbuilding To Music‘ – and what a blast I had discussing music culture and video-gaming with folks at this year’s con! Graduating from doing my first panels at this year’s Eastercon (Satellite 4) to speaking at panels at one roughly 30 times bigger was a bit of a leap. I owe some thanks to Thomas Olde Heuvelt, who suggested treating it like having a chat with friends – and he’s right, it really does make the discussions a lot easier. Luckily my fellow panellists included genial folk musician Bill Sutton, brilliant fan culture academic Nicolle Lamerichs, magnificently-bearded artist (and very good sport) Jeremy Zerfoss, and not least the amazing Melinda Snodgrass, who provided the guiding hand at both my panels at the weekend. We had some great crowds – the video-game music one in particular started to become a general v-g music chat with everyone by the end. While Satellite 4 will always stand out as the con I made my first official panel appearances (click here for the Eastercon report), Loncon 3 was the con where I felt like I really belonged up there. Thank you to everyone who turned out to either panel.

Worldcon Pirate Program Reading [1]
Photo by Annie Catling.
Oh, and I also snuck in a surprise last minute reading at the weekend, as part of the Pirate Program. Once again, Cap’n David Gullen and team put on an entertaining schedule of readings across the weekend on the bandstand – Cleland Smith, Pete Sutton, Adrian Faulkner (and his goblin voices) and Brian Milton, amongst a sterling selection of writers. It was also gratifying to see this year’s line-up expand into poetry, and also non-fiction, with a reading from David Stokes’ thesis on 17th century diplomacy in particular making for interesting reflection on the transmedia feel of Worldcon. Click here for a full report on the weekend’s readings.

Waiting for Pirates - PP readers Adrian Faulkner, Brian Milton and Elaine Gallagher, joined by Tracy Berg and Nicolle Lamerichs.
Waiting for Pirates – PP readers Adrian Faulkner, Brian Milton, Peter Morrison and Elaine Gallagher, joined by Tracy Berg and Nicolle Lamerichs.

As usual, one of my favourite things at the con was the chance to catch up with old friends – and as this was a Worldcon, those from overseas or from other parts of the UK who I don’t see so much. Luckily it was never hard to find someone to go to dinner or simply spend an hour or so having a coffee, and it was heartening to see friendships blossoming from quick meetings in queues, brief email exchanges, or the swapping of good-natured humour on twitter. The panels provided opportunity to explore new viewpoints and new reading material – Amal El-Mohtar and Rochita Loenen Ruiz’s thoughts on getting away from the western viewpoint on SF were interesting, as were Tansy Rayner-Roberts’s comments on criticism. And while I missed some of the readings I meant to make, I was particularly glad I managed to squeeze in Paul Cornell, Emma Newman, Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Aliette de Bodard, Nina Allan, Gareth L. Powell and Neil Williamson’s readings, amongst others who I’ll no doubt be kicking myself for forgetting after I’ve uploaded this blog.

Loncon3 Ceilidh Airbourne Division (l-r Shona, Brian, Me and Marcus)
Loncon3 Ceilidh Airbourne Division (l-r Shona, Brian, Me and Marcus)

I know that not all commentators on the event had such a good time in comparison to Nine Worlds. I can’t really comment on Nine Worlds itself, although I’ve heard great reports yet again (it’s just a shame it was too close to Worldcon for me). All I can say is I must have gone to different panels, hung out with different people and gone to different readings. It felt far from an “old fogie con” to me. Indeed, with range of creative activities specifically for young people (I wanted to make a lightsabre too…!), the families of kids playing on the green in the daytime, the way that same green turned into a giant beer party in the evening, it felt to me like most age ranges were catered for. Although I heard reports of some technical difficulties, the organisation was pretty faultless in my experience; a result of the immense hard work of the Loncon3 organisers, and all the volunteers who gave their time to making it. I can only hope that reflects well on Worldcons as a whole – particularly because, on the basis of how wonderful this one was, I don’t intend for it to be my last.

(l-r) Jeremy Zerfoss, Me, Clara Belle and Peter Morrison.
(l-r) Jeremy Zerfoss, Me, Clara Belle and Peter Morrison.

So what’s next? Well, as I write, tomorrow (Friday 5th September) I’m off to Fantasycon in York to spend the weekend as a Redcoat/Redshirt. Actually, as I understand it, it’s going to be more like a fluorescent vest, but that doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. Hope to see you there!

Photo by Peter Morrison.
Photo by Peter Morrison.

 

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